Elizabeth Mittell, postdoctoral researcher at the University of St Andrews, will present her research on the intringuing history of the wild cabbage and of its microbiome.
Crop wild relatives are important resources for agricultural plants. Wild cabbages are found along the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and around the UK. The historical source of these wild populations and domesticated varieties is still uncertain, and could impact their use as crop wild relatives. One hypothesis is that cultivars were locally domesticated independently -- i.e. French cabbages were domesticated in France, Spanish cabbages in Spain. An alternative hypothesis is that Brassica oleracea was domesticated from a closely related species in the Mediterranean, transported across Europe by people and that these domestic plants escaped in the Atlantic region to establish the populations seen today. As an initial investigation into the population structure of these wild cabbages in Spain and the UK, double-digest RAD sequencing was used here. In addition to this, due to the increased awareness of the importance of microbial communities to host species health, for some of the same populations 16S amplicon sequencing was used to investigate the root-associated microbial communities. Overall, regardless of the origin of wild cabbages along these Atlantic coasts, these populations are likely to hold some useful resources for agriculture.