Breeding & Research Goals:
Brassica is a genus within the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), commonly
known as the mustard family. The family of about 375 genera
and 3200 species includes crops, ornamentals, and
many weeds. Brassica contains about 100 species, including
cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip, various
mustards and weeds. (From: Willis, J.C. 1973. A Dictionary
of the Flowering Plants and Ferns. Eighth Edition. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge et alibi. 1245pp.)
Areas of Interest:
(to view a specific area, click on the topic)
The Brassica Breeding Group at the University of Idaho conducts ongoing research
for alternative crop use and other reasons within the Pacific Northwest dryland
(no irrigation) farming.
We work with a number of other disciplines within the College of
Agricultural & Life Sciences including, Plant pathology, Horticulture, Engineering,
Science, Entomology and Economics. Our primary research area
in Northern Idaho extends from Bonners
Ferry to Grangeville. We also conduct research
or collaborate with other researchers in central and eastern Washington,
Oregon and in Kalispell, Montana. Crop varieties
include: Brassica napus, and Brassica rapa,
Canola/Rapeseed; Sinapis alba, Yellow Mustard (Condiment); and Brassica
juncea (yellow and brown, condiment and canola-quality), Oriental Mustard.
Farming systems throughout the Palouse and Prairie, mostly
northwest and central Idaho and northeast Washington are primarily dryland , some areas within central Washington and
north-central Oregon are irrigated systems.
Specific research conducted by our group
- Investigate breeding methodologies and inheritance of
important traits in developing new and improved varieties of
- Examine and develop procedures to increase breeding efficiency
in developing superior Brassica oilseed and condiment
- Develop oilseed Brassica cultivars that
suitable for industrial processing, including high quality
- Broaden genetic base and introgress insect and disease
resistance and other desirable traits into Brassica crops
using interspecific and intraspecific hybridization.
- Develop genotypes of yellow mustard (S. alba)
with modified fatty acid oil content, improved oil content, and with
low glucosinolate content in residual seed meal, i.e. a canola-quality
- Develop interspecific and intraspecific hybrid genotypes
with designer glucosinolate content and quality suitable as an
alternative to highly toxic synthetic soil fumigants.
- Develop seeding techniques specific to the Pacific Northwest conventional tillage
and direct seeding farming practices.
Canola/Rapeseed Breeding and Research
First we need to clear up the confusion between
the use of the terms "canola" and "rapeseed". The use of
rapeseed is the traditional name for the group of oilseed crops in the Brassicaceae family. Rapeseed (Brassica
napus, or Brassica rapa) can be divided into two types:
Canola, and Industrial rapeseed. The two types are
distinguished based on their individual chemical or fatty acid profiles, which
is the fat molecule. Canola is the new name for the edible
oil-crop that is characterized by low erucic acid (long chain fat found
in plants of the mustard family) or L.E.A.R, with less than 2%
erucic acid, and less than 30 micromoles glucosinolates (the 'hot'
in mustard seeds, when this compound is broken down with water it
reacts and provides the heat felt on the tongue, characteristic in
all Brassicaceae plants). Industrial Rapeseed, high in
erucic acid or H.E.A.R, with greater than 45% erucic acid, and
high or low in glucosinolates. Low glucosinolates are
preferred for traditional markets to allow the use of the meal as
a livestock feed.
Brassica napus, is
thought to exist primarily through a natural cross between close
relatives, the parents, B. oleracea
(Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli) X B. rapa (Turnip
rape, rapeseed, Turnip), B. napus is self pollinated.
It is thought to possibly have existed as a wild escape in the
overlap zones of European-Mediterranean areas where the parents
We have developed 9 varieties of
B. napus, 6 spring forms, and 3 winter forms specific to
growing conditions in the Pacific Northwest, to view the variety
release data please refer to the
"For Growers" page under
'Varieties'. We are developing, through greenhouse
and field trials different varieties for use in different
commercial and industrial settings. Some of these uses
cooking, food additives, lubrication, alternative fuel uses
(Biodiesel, University of Idaho, Agricultural Engineering), motor oil
additives (Duane Johnson at:
NWARC, Montana State University, Kalispell, MT).
Here at the University of Idaho Canola breeding
and research program we are developing superior seed for use as
alternative crop rotations in the Pacific Northwest. We are investigating breeding methodologies and inheritance of
important traits to develop new and improved Brassica
crop species. We are also examining and developing
procedures to increase breeding efficiency to developed superior Brassica oilseed and condiment
dealing with an oil-seed crop you also need to look at the
by-products which is the meal. We are developing cultivars
with more specific chemical profiles to include the meal as a
livestock feed. We are ultimately developing oilseed Brassica cultivars that would be
suitable for industrial processing, including high quality
To view our publications see
top of page
Mustard Breeding and Research
The term 'mustard' is believed to be derived
from the use of the seeds as condiment; the sweet 'must' of old
wine was mixed with crushed seeds to form a paste. It is
amongst the oldest recorded spices, with Sanskrit records dating
back to about 3000 B.C.
Within the condiment mustards all have high
glucosinolate levels and the oil is neither canola nor industrial
quality. There is Yellow Mustard (or white mustard),
Sinapis alba, and Oriental Mustard, Brassica juncea
(yellow and brown seeded varieties) developed between the cross
Brassica rapa (canola-cabbage, kohlrabi, etc.)
X Brassica nigra (Black mustard-weed).
Sinapis alba: The center of
origin is believed to be the eastern Mediterranean, and wild forms
occur around most of the Mediterranean littoral, especially in the
Aegean (eastern Mediterranean).
Brassica juncea: The center
of origin is believed to be in Central Asia-Himalayas, with migration
to secondary centers in India, China and the Caucasus (mountainous
region of south-central Russia).
Mustards have very appealing growing
compared to Canola. Compared to canola they have much
higher resistance to insect and disease damage, can grow in the
drier areas within the Pacific Northwest and under normal conditions
will yield higher. But, the oil quality is lower so value
placed on mustard is low. Through interspecific and
intergeneric hybridization using the ovary culture and embryo
rescue techniques we have taken the desirable traits
of this plant and hybridized it to canola to attempt to create a
canola-quality oil with higher disease and insect resistance.
See research page,
top of page
Biodiesel research is being conducted here at the UI
is a collaborative effort between the Canola Research and Breeding, and
the Agricultural Engineering lab. The canola lab develops
variety selections and Agricultural Engineering has been
developing the processing end products for about 25 years, under
Chuck Peterson (Biodiesel). Any vegetable oil can be used as a fuel, known as biodiesel.
You can use fresh pressed oils from seed harvested or you can
actually re-use used fry oil (as in fast food restaurant type
oils). There are a variety of reasons certain plant types
are used as fuels. Brassicaceae oils are relatively low in
saturated fats, have a lower pour or melting point, and it has
better cold flow properties than soy oils. They are also
relatively low in polyunsaturated fats which equals to lower
nitrous oxide emissions.
Currently biodiesel is relatively costly compared to
petroleum diesel. To reduce the cost UI is developing
alternative uses of the canola and mustard seed by-products. To produce biodiesel
you press the seed to extract the oil, the high cost value product. The by-product is an
oil-free seed meal. Meal with low glucosinolate content is
livestock feed, which has very low value. High glucosinolate
meal from mustards has the potential for use as a bio-fumigant
(replacing soil fumigants such as methyl bromide). Soil
fumigants have a high value cost associate, which will reduce the
price of bio-fuels.
The performance of many diesel engines has been
tested with various forms of biodiesel. Examples include
Cummins, Caterpillar, Navistar, Isuzu, John Deere, Mitsubishi and
Volkswagen in various forms of biodiesel (UI on-farm equipment and
vehicles, combines, tractors, trucks, Bio-Bug- 2002 VW Beetle).