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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2008 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The overall objective of this project is to develop value-added products from fruits and vegetables, especially those containing phytonutrients. Anthocyanins and carotenoids are plant pigments that contribute to fruit quality and are also phytonutrients, and will be one objective of this project. Other objectives include selection and breeding of watermelon for enhanced lycopene content and modification of fruit quality for new market niches.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Experiments to determine the physiology and develop technology necessary to extend the shelf life, marketability, and phytonutrient content of highly perishable fruits will be conducted. Enhancement of watermelon germplasm for market traits will be done using classical breeding techniques and exploration of the carotenoid path in watermelon will be done using molecular methodology. Food-grade formulations for extraction and stabilization of aqueous-based lycopene for extended shelf will be developed.

3.Progress Report
Work under this project during FY 2008 primarily addressed phytonutrient research areas. Lycopene experiments were designed to determine if lycopene extraction from watermelon was similar to that of extraction from tomato and could be successfully stabilized for use in food or pharmaceutical industries. Laboratory research was continued to determine the carotenoid pathway of watermelon. Additional research with international and multi-state cooperators was undertaken to determine if cloned genes in watermelon could be correlated to tomato genes to develop molecular markers to speed up selection for watermelon with a high lycopene trait. Mangos were analyzed in the laboratory to quantify vitamins C and A, and total phenolic content of five major cultivars. An animal model study was examined to determine effectiveness of mango in alleviation of lipidemia in a high fat diet. The overall impact from this project has been in improved technologies for developing functional foods and establishment of the health value of specific fruits and vegetables. (NP 306, Component 1, Problem Statement 1C, 1D; NP 301, Component 1, Problem Statement 1B, 2B)

1. Carotenoid pathway in watermelon: Watermelons contain carotenoids, pigments with antioxidant properties. Scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, OK, in cooperation with researchers at Texas A&M, USDA-ARS Charleston, N.C., and the Newe Ya’ar Research Center, ARO, Israel, determined the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway. By cloning genes involved in this pathway it was shown that there is a correlation to tomato genes responsible for lycopene synthesis. The impact is that this information may be used to develop molecular marker assisted breeding tools for developing increased nutrition in watermelon. (NP 301, Component 1, Problem statement 1B, Component 2, Problem statement 2B; NP 107, Component 5)

2. Watermelon chromoplasts as a supplemental source of "natural" lycopene: Carotenoids are pigments that give fruit color, protect cells from photoxidation, and are formed in chromoplasts that are microbodies in plant cells. Chromoplasts represent the most natural form of carotenoids, lycopene in the case of watermelon, which can be obtained from fruits. Scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, OK, developed a process to isolate intact chromoplasts from watermelon flesh. Additionally, they developed formulations for storage of the lycopene-containing chromoplasts that keep them stable in aqueous conditions for at least two years and stable as dried powder up to six months. The impact is that watermelon lycopene is positioned to become an important natural antioxidant source in nutraceuticals and as a red colorant in the food industry. (NP306, Component 1, Problem statement 1D)

3. Mangoes improve bone density in animal model: There are numerous reported reasons for incorporating fruits and vegetables into the diet. Scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, OK, studied mango fruit, known to be high in vitamins A and C, for this usefulness in preventing lipidemia, often associated with diabetes. Mango powder was incorporated into high fat diets to determine effectiveness in fat and muscle mass changes in mice, and compared to two pharmaceutical products known to effectively lower cholesterol and/or blood glucose. The mango powder initially helped slow the rise in blood glucose, cholesterol, and esterified fatty acids due to the high fat diet. After four months of mango incorporation, bone mineral density and mineral content were higher than in mice fed one pharmaceutical agent; livers were normal compared to the enlarged livers of mice fed the other pharmaceutical agent. The impact is that in an animal model, mango helps prevent lipidemia without adverse effects, and may also help maintain bone density. (NP 306, Component 1, Problem statement 1C, NP 107, Component 5)

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
a. Scientists participated in extension tours, field days, and agricultural conferences where technology was transferred to primarily small acreage growers.

b. Scientists actively interacted with local, female, small-scale organic grower to help with marketing and production issues in fruit and vegetable production.

6.Technology Transfer

Number of the New MTAs (providing only)1
Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings5
Number of Newspaper Articles and Other Presentations for Non-Science Audiences2
Number of Other Technology Transfer1

Review Publications
Davis, A.R., King, S. 2007. MSW-28 a full flavor crisp watermelon line with high lycopene and medium brix. HortScience. 42(7):1715-1716.

Davis, A.R., Collins, J.K., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Levi, A. 2008. LSW-177 and LSW-194: Red-fleshed watermelon lines with low-total soluble solids. HortScience. 43(2):538-539.

Davis, A.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Sakata, Y., Lopez-Galarza, S., Maroto, J.V., Lee, S., Huh, Y., Sun, Z., Miguel, A., King, S.R., Cohen, R., Lee, J. 2008. Cucurbit grafting. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 27:50-74.

Wechter, W.P., Levi, A., Harris-Shultz, K.R., Davis, A.R., Fei, Z.J., Katzir, N., Giovannoni, J.J., Salman-Minkov, A., Hernandez, A., Thimmapuram, J., Tadmor, Y., Portnoy, V., Trebitsh, T. 2008. Gene expression in developing watermelon fruit. Biomed Central (BMC) Genomics. 9:275-282.

Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2007. Carotenoids in watermelon and mango. Acta Horticulturae. 746:259-264.

Wu, G., Collins, J.K., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Siddiq, M., Dolan, K.D., Kelley, K.A., Heaps, C.L., Meininger, C.J. 2007. Dietary supplementation with watermelon pomace juice enhances arginine availability and ameliorates the metabolic syndrome in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Journal of Nutrition. 137:2680-2685.

Taber, H., Perkins Veazie, P.M., White, W., Li, S., Rodermel, S., Xu, Y. 2008. Enhancement of tomato fruit lycopene by potassium is cultivar dependent. HortScience. 43(1):159-165.

Davis, A.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Hassell, R., Levi, A., King, S.R., Zhang, X. 2008. Grafting effects on vegetable quality. HortScience. 43(6):1670-1672.

King, S.R., Davis, A.R., Liu, W., Levi, A. 2008. Grafting for disease resistance. HortScience. 43(6):1673-1675.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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