Brassica (//) is a genus of plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). The members of the genus are informally known as cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, or mustard plant. Crops from this genus are sometimes called cole crops—derived from the Latin caulis, meaning stem or cabbage.
Members of brassica commonly used for food include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and some seeds. The genus is known for its important agricultural and horticultural crops and includes a number of weeds, both of wild taxa and escapees from cultivation. It counts over 30 wild species and hybrids plus numerous cultivars and hybrids of cultivated origin. Most are seasonal plants (annuals or biennials), but some are small shrubs. Brassica plants have been the subject of much scientific interest for their agricultural importance. Six particular species (B. carinata, B. juncea, B. oleracea, B. napus, B. nigra and B. rapa) evolved by the combining of chromosomes from three earlier species, as described by the Triangle of U theory.
A dislike for cabbage or broccoli can result from the fact that these plants contain a compound similar to phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), which is bitter or tasteless to some people depending on their 'taste buds'.
Almost all parts of some species or other have been developed for food, including the root (rutabaga, turnips), stems (kohlrabi), leaves (cabbage, collard greens), flowers (cauliflower, broccoli), buds (Brussels sprouts, cabbage), and seeds (many, including mustard seed, and oil-producing rapeseed). Some forms with white or purple foliage or flowerheads are also sometimes grown for ornament.
Brassica vegetables are highly regarded for their nutritional value. They provide high amounts of vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties: 3,3'-diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium. Boiling reduces the level of anticancer compounds, but steaming, microwaving, and stir frying do not result in significant loss. Steaming the vegetable for three to four minutes is recommended to maximize sulforaphane.
Brassica vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells in vitro and appears to block the growth of cancer cells in vitro. They are also a good source of carotenoids, with broccoli having especially high levels. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3'-diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activity; however, it also is an antiandrogen but known to be anti-androgenic only in hormone sensitive prostate cancer cells.
There is some disagreement among botanists on the classification and status of Brassica species and subspecies. The following is an abbreviated list, with an emphasis on economically important species.
- B. balearica: Mallorca cabbage
- B. carinata: Abyssinian mustard or Abyssinian cabbage, used to produce biodiesel
- B. elongata: elongated mustard
- B. fruticulosa: Mediterranean cabbage
- B. hilarionis: St Hilarion cabbage
- B. juncea: Indian mustard, brown and leaf mustards, Sarepta mustard
- B. napus: rapeseed, canola, rutabaga (swede/Swedish turnip/swede turnip)
- B. narinosa: broadbeaked mustard
- B. nigra: black mustard
- B. oleracea: kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kai-lan, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi
- B. perviridis: tender green, mustard spinach
- B. rapa (syn B. campestris): Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, komatsuna
- B. rupestris: brown mustard
- B. septiceps: seventop turnip
- B. tournefortii: Asian mustard
Other species formerly placed in Brassica
- B. kaber (wild mustard or charlock)—see Sinapis arvensis
- B. alba or B. hirta (white or yellow mustard)—see Sinapis alba
- B. geniculata (hoary mustard)—see Hirschfeldia incana
Genome sequencing and genetics
Bayer CropScience (in collaboration with BGI-Shenzhen, China, Keygene N.V., the Netherlands and the University of Queensland, Australia) announced it had sequenced the entire genome of rapeseed/canola (Brassica napus) and its constituent genomes present in B. rapa and B. oleracea in 2009. The B. rapa genome was sequenced by the Multinational Brassica Genome Project in 2011. This also represents the A genome component of the amphidiploid crop species B. napus and B. juncea.
- Cruciferous vegetables for more edible plants of the Brassicaceae family.
- Gene nomenclature
- Mustard plant
- Triangle of U
- "caulis". Wordnik. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
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- Finley, John W.; Sigrid-Keck, Anna; Robbins, Rebecca J.; Hintze, Korry J. (2005). "Selenium Enrichment of Broccoli: Interactions between Selenium and Secondary Plant Compounds". The Journal of Nutrition 135 (5): 1236–8. PMID 15867310.
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- Song, Lijiang; Thornalley, Paul J. (2007). "Effect of storage, processing and cooking on glucosinolate content of Brassica vegetables". Food and Chemical Toxicology 45 (2): 216–24. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2006.07.021. PMID 17011103. Lay summary – University of Warwick (15 May 2007).
- Matusheski, Nathan V.; Swarup, Ranjan; Juvik, John A.; Mithen, Richard; Bennett, Malcolm; Jeffery, Elizabeth H. (2006). "Epithiospecifier Protein from Broccoli (Brassica oleraceaL. Ssp.italica) Inhibits Formation of the Anticancer Agent Sulforaphane". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54 (6): 2069–76. doi:10.1021/jf0525277. PMID 16536577. Lay summary – ScienceDaily (5 April 2005).
- Fan, S; Meng, Q; Auborn, K; Carter, T; Rosen, E M (2006). "BRCA1 and BRCA2 as molecular targets for phytochemicals indole-3-carbinol and genistein in breast and prostate cancer cells". British Journal of Cancer 94 (3): 407–26. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602935. PMC 2361140. PMID 16434996. Lay summary – BBC News (7 February 2006).
- Wu, Yongsheng; Feng, Xiaoling; Jin, Yucui; Wu, Zhaojia; Hankey, William; Paisie, Carolyn; Li, Lei; Liu, Fengjuan et al. (2010). "A Novel Mechanism of Indole-3-Carbinol Effects on Breast Carcinogenesis Involves Induction of Cdc25A Degradation". Cancer Prevention Research 3 (7): 818–28. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0213. PMID 20587702. Lay summary – ScienceDaily (30 June 2010).
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- Vivar, Omar I.; Lin, Chia-Lei; Firestone, Gary L.; Bjeldanes, Leonard F. (2009). "3,3′-Diindolylmethane induces a G1 arrest in human prostate cancer cells irrespective of androgen receptor and p53 status". Biochemical Pharmacology 78 (5): 469–76. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2009.05.008. PMC 2706920. PMID 19433067.
- Le, Hien T.; Schaldach, Charlene M.; Firestone, Gary L.; Bjeldanes, Leonard F. (2003). "Plant-derived 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Is a Strong Androgen Antagonist in Human Prostate Cancer Cells". Journal of Biological Chemistry 278 (23): 21136–45. doi:10.1074/jbc.M300588200. PMID 12665522.
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- "Bayer CropScience first to sequence the entire genome of rapeseed/canola" (Press release). Bayer CropScience. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Wang, Xiaowu; Wang, Hanzhong; Wang, Jun; Sun, Rifei; Wu, Jian; Liu, Shengyi; Bai, Yinqi; Mun, Jeong-Hwan et al. (2011). "The genome of the mesopolyploid crop species Brassica rapa". Nature Genetics 43 (10): 1035–9. doi:10.1038/ng.919. PMID 21873998.
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