Exploiting Sicilian Brassica oleracea L. complex species for the innovation of the agricultural systems and products: a review analysis

F. Branca, L. Maggioni
Brassica crops have followed several evolutionary pathways leading to modern cultivars, which are widely grown around the world. Broccoli, cauliflower and kale have their candidate center of origin and diversity in the Mediterranean basin. Their primary gene pool has been under evaluation for a few decades in southern Italy and especially in Sicily. The high diversity of kale, broccoli and cauliflower, which belong to the Brassica oleracea L. species, seems to reflect different steps of the same domestication process undergone in establishing these crops. In addition, the diversity within and between Sicilian landraces has started to be well understood. This great diversity has been exploited in Sicily for different processing purposes, such as in the case of the loose curd landraces of violet and green cauliflower, and of the sprouting and apical dominant landraces of broccoli. The richness of types and forms diffused in Sicily, mainly in peri-urban farms and home gardens, is also paralleled with a wide range of wild Brassica species (n=9) which are widespread throughout the Mediterranean coasts and islands, and which in some areas seem to easily intercross with the widely cultivated B. oleracea crops. These wild relatives represent a broad source of diversity that could enhance the diversity of the existing crops. During recent decades, several authors have identified the contribution of wild and cultivated Brassica germplasm to the improvement of agronomic and nutraceutical traits of Brassica crops, such as resistance to pests and diseases. The high content of health-related compounds, like glucosinolates, anthocyanins, carotenoids, total polyphenols, ascorbic acid, and their profiles clearly distinguish them from the hybrids F1, largely grown all around the world, and is utilized as phytochemical descriptors for the traceability of the products. This discussion focuses on the main results and perspectives devoted to the innovation of food and agriculture, thanks to the investigation and use of the Mediterranean gene pool of the B. oleracea complex species (n=9).
Branca, F. and Maggioni, L. (2020). Exploiting Sicilian Brassica oleracea L. complex species for the innovation of the agricultural systems and products: a review analysis. Acta Hortic. 1267, 187-196
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1267.29
Brassica oleracea, germplasm, food innovation, antioxidant compounds, vegetables

Acta Horticulturae