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Did you know vegetables are leaving bitterness behind?

Brussel sprouts with lollipop sticks in candy wrappers on table. April fools food; Shutterstock ID 1015039561; purchase_order: 1111; job: ; client: BE 0862 390 376; other:

Brussels sprouts are commonly associated with bitter taste; however, today’s varieties are much milder than before. Bitterness is due to naturally occurring chemical compounds that make vegetables less appealing to plant predators (and humans too).

To improve the taste, plant breeders looked for old varieties that have low levels of “bitterness” and crossed them with modern varieties. The resulting Brussels sprouts combined superior agronomic performance with milder bitterness [1].

Plant breeding innovation allows faster development of vegetables suited to changing consumers’ demand. Recent examples include elimination of bitterness in chicory and Belgian endives using CRISPR/Cas9 technology [2].

A woman with Brussels sprouts in her hand

Video by Maddie Moate: How do Brussels sprouts grow? 

 

[1] The glucosinolates sinigrin and progoitrin are important determinants for taste preference and bitterness of Brussels sprouts - Van Doorn et al. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

[2] Less bitter Belgian endive and chicory by switching off the "bitter genes" using CRISPR/Cas9 technology -

ILVO Vlaanderen.