Genome sequence could improve important agricultural crops

- Last updated on GMT

The newly sequenced genome of a Chinese cabbage variety could help improve the efficiency of oilseed rape breeding, as well as that of a host of other important food and oil crops.

An international team of scientists sequenced the Chinese cabbage variety known as Brassica rapa n​ – a close relative of oilseed rape.

The project was conducted by an international consortium involving researchers working across four continents, with the majority of the data generated in China.

Oilseed rape is an important source of vegetable oils for cooking and industrial applications and its production has doubled in the last 15 years. The Chinese cabbage variety known known as Brassica rapa n a close relative of oilseed rape

It is an unusual hybrid which contains the entire genomes of two other plants: Brassica rapa and another closely related species called Brassica oleracea. By sequencing Brassica rapa, researchers are able to access half of oilseed rape's genes without having to wrestle with its large and complicated genome.

“Oilseed rape is the second most important oil crop in the world and the most important in Europe. Sequencing its genes will provide breeders with the tools to improve the efficiency of developing new varieties, but this is difficult because it has a really complicated genome … Thankfully, because it is a hybrid, nature has already divided up the oilseed rape genome into two more manageable chunks, one of which we have now sequenced,”​ explained Professor Ian Bancroft from John Innes Centre, UK.

Related topics: Nutrition

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