In Vitro Culture and the Production of Polyphenol and Volatile Compounds in Ocimum

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The genus Ocimum of the mint family Labiatae, some of which are well known as ‘basil’, is found in temperate regions in the world. The plants are popularly used as culinary herbs and flower garden ornamentals. One of the major species of basil is O. basilicum L. (sweet basil, Fig. 1), which has some varieties such as O. basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ (cinnamon basil), ‘Crispum’ (lettuce-leaf basil), ‘Minimum’ (bush basil) and Purpurascens’ (dark opal basil). It is an aromatic annual herb, native of tropical Asia, Africa and islands of the Pacific Ocean (Hikawa 1998). Holy basil (O. sanctum), frequently cultivated in warm parts of Asia (in conjunction with the Hindu religion), has a sweet fragrance and is popularly used as an ornamental.. The perennial O. basilicum ‘Citriodorum’ (lemon basil) has a strong lemon fragrance which is appropriate for kitchen vinegar. Tree basil (O. suave) of Africa, which is a many branched shrub and closely resembles O. gratissimum (tea bush) of India, is an important garden tree, growing in well-drained soil and a sunny location (Everett 1981).