A group of researchers from the Center for Edaphology and Applied Biology of the Segura, Cebas-CSIC, led by Micaela Carvajal, is developing a project called "Implementation of the procedure to stimulate the synthesis of glucosinolates in broccoli through the foliar application of eliciters". Their goal is to develop new broccoli plants with greater anticancer potential.
"Glucosinolates are chemical compounds that are found in small quantities in plants of the Brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, etc.) and which have biological properties of interest for the prevention of diseases in humans,” says Carvajal. "Of all these crops, broccoli is the one with the highest glucosinolate content, which is why it is considered healthier than the rest. For their part, eliciters are compounds that have the ability to bioinduce or biostimulate plant metabolism."
The Aquaporinas research group, which Carvajal has been working with for several years, is trying to apply eliciting treatments of natural origin to broccoli crops to increase the synthesis of glucosinolates. “The concentration of these compounds, which are the most valuable anticancer agents in broccoli, can increase by up to 5 times. Since the previous experiments have been carried out in a culture chamber and under very controlled conditions, we need to validate the results in real conditions in commercial production farms. At this time, the testing period is underway," says the researcher.
“For the time being, the results are very encouraging, as the tests carried out during the winter and spring seasons show the same results as those obtained under controlled conditions. Therefore, it appears that the validity of the technology used is being confirmed."
This technology will not only allow you to produce broccoli with higher nutritional quality; the rest of the plant material that is not used for food will also have a higher glucosinolate content, so it can be used to manufacture high added value ingredients, such as food supplements, says Micaela Carvajal.