Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Sciences

First Advisor

Lightfoot, David A.

Second Advisor

Reeve, John

Third Advisor

Banz, Bruce


Six topics are presented, relevant to agricultural research on two horticultural varieties of Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl. Chapter 1, “Review of the economic and ethno-botany of the genera of the family Nyctaginaceae," includes a summary of literature on the topics included in the title, and an original taxonomic update of plant names used correctly and incorrectly as synonyms for Mirabilis jalapa, the type name for the plant family Nyctaginaceae. M. jalapa has been substituted for medicinal jalap from Mexico. Names in the Convolvulaceae for medicinal Jalap are also updated here, as they show the origin of many names which have been incorrectly used as synonyms in the Mirabilis literature. Chapter 2, “History of Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl.; Growth and use in the Andes,” is also a literature review, incorporating information from several documents and papers which have only recently become readily available internationally via the Internet. These documents were translated into English for this chapter. Research in Chapter 3, “Field trials of Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl. grown in North America; Growth, yield and quality traits,” showed that M. expansa horticultural varieties 'L' and 'T' are tolerant to the intense weather conditions of southern Illinois, when grown on constructed sand plots. In Chapter 4, “Amino Acid profiles for two horticultural varieties of Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl.: A rare indigenous Andean crop grown in southern Illinois,” M. expansa was examined for its amino acid values and those values considered in terms of differnces between the two varieties and above and below ground structures. In addition, soil amendments peat and steer manure, considered alone and together, as well as structure and variety, were examined for their effect on production of amino acids in ANOVAs and Tukey-adjusted LS-Means run in SAS 9.3. In Chapter 5, “Nutrients, Comparison of Amino Acid Profiles, and Cytotoxicity Testing for Mirabilis expansa (Ruiz and Pav.) Standl.,” the amino acid profiles for M. expansa from the previous chapter are compared to profiles for other crops, eggs and milk. M. expansa is shown relatively to contain extremely high amounts of total protein. In addition published values for other nutrients for M. expansa taken from translated material are combined into two tables. Also, a cytotoxicity assay carried out in collaboration with researchers at Ohio State University was used to see if the southern Illinois M. expansa material was active against highly sensitive HT-29 colon cancer cells. Negative results from that assay serves as preliminary data for a lack of toxicity due to micro-molecules in the crop. Chapter 6, “Inexpensive nitrogen chambers for conservation of herbarium specimens,” was an outgrowth of the need to find a chemically benign manner for storing herbarium specimens of Mirabilis, used in research which led to the work described in the previous chapters. The results show that valved oxygen barrier bags, designed for clothing storage, with a small number of oxygen absorbers, can retain conditions for sufficient periods to treat specimens for pests. This allows the bags to be used as inexpensive nitrogen chambers, to treat herbarium specimens in place of expensive nitrogen systems or freezers, and without the toxic chemicals historically used in herbaria for the same purpose.

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