Screening Brassica species for glucosinolate content

George F. Antonious, Michael Bomford, Paul Vincelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Glucosinolates (GSLs), a group of compounds found in Brassica plants, are toxic to some soil-borne plant pathogens because of the toxicity of their hydrolysis products, isothiocyanates. Other phytochemicals found in Brassica plants, such as phenols and ascorbic acid, may compliment the activity of GSLs. A survey of Brassica accessions from the national germplasm repository was conducted to identify potential cover crops that could be soil-incorporated for use as biofumigants. Ten Brassica accessions that demonstrated relative cold tolerance, rapid maturity, and superior biomass production were selected. The selected accessions were grown under three climatic conditions (fall greenhouse, winter high tunnel, and spring field) to investigate whether growing conditions affect their GSL, phenol, and ascorbic acid content. The selected accessions included seven accessions of Brassica juncea (Indian mustard), one of Brassica napus (oil seed rape), one of Brassica campestris (field mustard), and one of Eruca sativa (arugula). Separation of GSLs from the selected Brassica accessions was achieved using ion-exchange sephadex in disposable pipette tips. Quantification of total GSLs was based on inactivation of the endogenous thioglucosidase and liberation of the glucose moiety from the GSL molecule by addition of standardized thioglucosidase (myrosinase) and colorimetry. GSL concentration of greenhouse, high tunnel, and field-grown shoots (leaves and stems) averaged 24, 40 and 76 μ moles g- 1 fresh weight, respectively. Accessions of B. juncea generally had the highest GSL content. A comparison of accessions revealed that Ames 8887 of B. juncea contained the greatest GSL concentration, but had the lowest biomass yield and ascorbic acid concentration, in part because phytochemical concentration tended to be negatively correlated with biomass yield. More promising was B. juncea accession 'Pacific Gold' which coupled high biomass yield with above-average GSL production, but had low phenol and ascorbic acid concentration. We concluded that environmental stress on growing plants can increase the concentration of GSLs, ascorbic acid, and total phenols in Brassica shoots, but does not increase yields of these phytochemicals per unit area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-316
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part B Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Ascorbic acid
  • Biofumigants
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Myrosinase
  • Thioglucosidase
  • Total phenols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Pollution


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