North Carolina State University Plants for human Health Institute in Kannapolis, NC, has researchers studying more than 300 cabbage varieties for a cabbage breeding program.
Leading the project is Dr. Gad Yousef, senior research scientist, and Dr. Allan Brown, assistant professor, who received a grant from USDA to study the genetic diversity of cabbage.
Green cabbage is a source of glucosinolates and carotenoids, while red and purple cabbage is rich with anthocyanins. In addition to these benefits, cabbage also helps protect against chronic diseases, such as cancer and macular degeneration. Despite all of these benefits, however, consumption of the vegetable has been steadily declining for the past 40 years.
In order to combat this trend, the study will evaluate the germplasm of the produce to — as Dr. Yousef says — “identify material that will lead to new and economically viable cultivars for North Carolina farmers.” Brown elaborated, saying, “We believe that improved taste and health benefits will lead to greater consumption of this healthy vegetable.”
The study will span two years, and the focus will be on green, red, and Savoy cabbage in a climate controlled greenhouse at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury, NC, as well as in Dr. Brown’s lab at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.
Done in collaboration with USDA germplasm repository in Geneva, NY, the evaluation will add valuable information to the cabbage program, which also includes an extensive germplasm collection that the Plants for Human Health Institute received from Monsanto Company in May, 2011.