Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flower Power – Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile

Date:
November 26, 2013
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Plants can reproduce in a multitude of different ways, unlike humans and animals. Scientists have been working on developing new varieties of chamomile that can be cultivated as a medicinal plant. The researchers have been trying to identify varieties that will bloom longer and make its cultivation easier.

Dyed chamomile pollen under a microscope. Whether the pollen are fertile or not can be seen under magnification.
Credit: Bettina Fähnrich/Vetmeduni Vienna

Plants can reproduce in a multitude of different ways, unlike humans and animals. Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna have been working on developing new varieties of chamomile that can be cultivated as a medicinal plant. The researchers have been trying to identify varieties that will bloom longer and make its cultivation easier. 

Chamomile is a medicinal plant used mainly in the treatment of stomach and intestinal diseases, including the field of veterinary medicine. Agricultural scientist Bettina Fähnrich from the Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds has been focusing on the genetics of chamomile (Matricaria recutita). She has been looking for chamomile varieties with a triploid (threefold) set of chromosomes instead of the natural diploid (double) set. Plants with the triploid form produce blooms that last longer and have a longer harvesting period. An additional advantage of a triploid variety of chamomile is that most of the seeds produced would be sterile. This slows down the reproductive cycle so that the plant would not germinate in the following season, when the farmer wants to grow another crop in the field. This means less chamomile has to be removed as a weed in subsequent years. But finding such a triploid variety did not turn out to be an easy task.

Chamomile is genetically conservative

Many plants change their number of chromosomes spontaneously and naturally -- it's an evolutionary process that enables them to adapt to external circumstances. Not so with chamomile, however. "It is very difficult to do research on chamomile because this species is rather conservative, in genetic terms. That means that it doesn't change its genetics easily. Other plants are much more flexible," Fähnrich explains. Producing triploid chromosome sets has become common practice when cultivating ornamental plants such as marigolds and begonias, but it proved harder in chamomile.

Developing a suitable chamomile cultivar

In the hope of finding one of these elusive triploid chamomiles, the scientists searched for spontaneous triploids in different varieties of the plant. Since the number of sets of chromosomes in plants can vary, the researchers hoped to find a triploid variety among them. However, when they screened naturally occurring diploid and artificially generated tetraploids (with fourfold chromosome sets), what they found in the tetraploids were frequent deviations from the expected set of chromosomes. It appears that the artificially mutated genomes in the tetraploids have a less stable genome than the natural forms; but even so, they did not produce any triploid varieties.

Investigating fertilization in chamomile

"If one wants to propagate plants successfully, it is vital to know how they reproduce," says Fähnrich. To find out, the chamomile geneticist analysed over 300 different varieties of chamomile plants from six different breeds, focusing on their capacity for fertilization. She crossed all these cultivars in both parental directions. The fertility of the pollen produced by the subsequent generation diminished significantly. The next step was to identify which crosses produced offspring that were almost infertile in pollen. These varieties would be the most promising for breeding, because they could be used as suitable mother lines for targeted plant crossing.

Generally, there are plants that can only fertilize themselves, and then there are plants that only fertilize others. Some plants can do both. Determining the extent of these different types of fertilization was one of Fähnrich's research aims. For breeding, the researchers are looking for varieties that cannot do self-fertilisation, because these types could easily be crossed with specific father plants.

Research for herbal medicine

Herbal medicine has become increasingly important in recent years, and including the field of Veterinary Medicine. Chamomile is widely used in alternative medicine but is rarely grown in Austria. Currently, the majority of chamomile that is processed in Austria is imported from South America, Egypt and Eastern Europe. Therefore one of Fähnrich's aims is to make chamomile an attractive crop for Austrian and Central European farmers again.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Fähnrich, B. et al. Self-incompatibility and male sterility in six Matricaria recutita varieties. Journal of Applied Botany and Food Quality, 2013
  2. Faehnrich, B. et al. Ploidy Level and Reproductive Trait Analysis in Three Matricaria recutita Cultivars. CYTOLOGIA, 2013

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Flower Power – Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131126092441.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2013, November 26). Flower Power – Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131126092441.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Flower Power – Researchers breed new varieties of chamomile." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131126092441.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) — Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins