- Diets rich in broccoli (Brassica oleracea var italica) have been associated with maintenance of cardiovascular health and reduction in risk of cancer. These health benefits have been attributed to glucoraphanin that specifically accumulates in broccoli. The development of broccoli with enhanced concentrations of glucoraphanin may deliver greater health benefits.
- Three high-glucoraphanin F1 broccoli hybrids were developed in independent programmes through genome introgression from the wild species Brassica villosa. Glucoraphanin and other metabolites were quantified in experimental field trials. Global SNP analyses quantified the differential extent of B. villosa introgression
- The high-glucoraphanin broccoli hybrids contained 2.5–3 times the glucoraphanin content of standard hybrids due to enhanced sulphate assimilation and modifications in sulphur partitioning between sulphur-containing metabolites. All of the high-glucoraphanin hybrids possessed an introgressed B. villosa segment which contained a B. villosa Myb28 allele. Myb28 expression was increased in all of the high-glucoraphanin hybrids. Two high-glucoraphanin hybrids have been commercialised as Beneforté® broccoli.
- The study illustrates the translation of research on glucosinolate genetics from Arabidopsis to broccoli, the use of wild Brassica species to develop cultivars with potential consumer benefits, and the development of cultivars with contrasting concentrations of glucoraphanin for use in blinded human intervention studies.