The choice of varieties among medicinal plant species is relatively small, compared to other horticultural crops. In Hungary, only poppy (Papaver somniferum) and mustard (Sinapis alba) have several cultivars. Recognising the problem, in the recent years breeding activity has been intensified all over the world, in spite of fin
...ancial, technical and legal difficulties. The article reports on the results of breeding at the Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Szent István University, 11 varieties of which has been officially registered till 2000. Main goals of genetic improvement are: increasing of the production capacity of utilised plant organs, enhancement of active material accumulation capacity, improvement of sensory quality and technological properties. The most often applied methods are selection, and recently, cross breeding, the results of which can be measured on new materials of caraway (Carum carvi), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), marjoram (Majorana hortensis), poppy (Papaver somniferum), etc. Efficacy of breeding work is established by additional, regular research on the genetics, physiology, floral and reproductive biology, chemosyndromes of medicinal plant species.
The chemical quality of the essential oils is determined by their composition as well as by the complex aroma features. For the evaluation of odour and aroma, sensory tests are practised, especially for applications such as aromatherapy, food industry or perfumery. In the recent studies we investigated eight Mentha origins (populations
... of Mentha iperita, M. spicata and M. arvensis) of our genebank collection using a new and effective instrumental sensory evaluation method parallelly with the usual GC analysis.
The results show that the examined mint clones possess different essential oil accumulation levels and special flavour characteristics, too. The GC analysis of the essential oil revealed characteristic differences at both inter- and intraspecific level in the proportion of mentol, menthon, carvon, limonene, menthyl acetate and in two not identified monoterpenes.
In the sensory tests the special complex aroma enables a reliable distinction with a single exception among the populations by the help of the "electronic nose" equipment. The distinction among the samples based on the sensor signals of the instrument — evaluated by multivariate methods — shows a close relation with the detected monoterpene components of the essential oil.