Submitted to: Journal of Essential Oil Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a perennial mint-family plant native to the northern Great Plains. It is cultivated as a nectar plant for honey bees and as an ornamental. There is increasing interest in this plant as an culinary herb and tea ingredient, and also as a source of aromatic compounds for flavoring and perfumery. But little is known about the genetic control of the major components of the aroma of anise hyssop. We conducted this study to help determine the genetic factors that control the production of myrcene, limonene, and methylchavicol, three of the most important aromatic compounds, and of total essential oils. We made controlled crosses between individual plants differing in their chemical composition, and two generations of offspring were then analyzed. Total essential oil production was found to be under the control of many genes with small, additive gene effects for four of the eight families of offspring studied, and each of the three major aromatic components is controlled by one to a few genes with recessive to additive effects. We also uncovered evidence suggesting that the parental anise hyssop population PI 561057 transmits a genetic factor or factors that suppress the overall production of major essential oils. These results will be useful for researchers who wish to breed or select populations of anise hyssop for improved production of aromatic compounds or for particular aromatic profiles.
Technical Abstract: Aromatic compounds are valuable secondary plant metabolites, and their synthesis is generally controlled through the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Agastache is a genus of perennial plants in the mint family primarily native to North America. It produces aromatic oils that are used in foods, drugs, and perfumes. This study was conducted to elucidate the genetic control of total essential oil production in A. foeniculum and, more specifically, of the production of myrcene, limonene, and methylchavicol, three major components of its essential oils. Controlled crosses were made between individuals with different chemotypes, and F2 populations were analyzed for their composition of volatiles by using headspace gas chromatography. Total essential oil production was found to be under polygenic control with additive gene effects for four of eight families studied, and each of the three major components is controlled by one to a few genes with recessive to additive effects. Evidence is also presented suggesting that population PI 561057 transmits a genetic factor or factors that suppress the overall production of major essential oils.