An international team of researchers led by The University of Western Australia have made a major breakthrough in understanding the important crop plant Brassica oleracea.
The research, published today in the leading journal Nature Communications has implications for breeding crops with improved nutritional benefits and disease resistance.
Brassica oleracea encompasses many popular vegetable crops including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprout, kohlrabi and kale, many of which are known to have health protective and anti-cancer properties.
Professor David Edwards from UWA’s School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture brought together researchers from the UK, US, China, South Korea and Australia to assemble the Brassica pangenome. The pangenome represents the full complement of genes found in the species, and was generated using the whole genome sequence data from nine Brassica crops.
Professor Edwards said genes carry hereditary information which governs the physical traits, ability to adapt to the environment, and nutritional value of a given plant. However, not all individuals of a species carry the same set of genes, and the difference in gene content may contribute to the variation observed.
“The Brassica oleracea pangenome constitutes a significant resource as it allows access to genes which are absent in some of the Brassica crops,” Professor Edwards said.
“We discovered that nearly 20% of the pangenome genes are present in some Brassica crops and not others, and some of those may influence important agronomical traits like flowering time, disease resistance and vitamin content.”
The findings were published in the paper, The pangenome of an agronomically important crop plant Brassica oleracea in Nature Communications. The research was supported by the Australian Research Council, Australian Genome Research Facility, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.
Professor David Edwards (+61 8) 6488 2415
Diana Boykett (Communications Officer, The UWA Institute of Agriculture)
(+61 8) 6488 3756 / (+61 4) 04 152 262