What causes oedema in brussel sprouts?

Recently, there has been a greater occurrence of the physiological condition known as Oedema in Brassica crops grown in the Adelaide Hills. Oedema in brussel sprouts can be particularly damaging to profits for growers as it may not become evident until late in the season or even after harvest. 

Oedema in brussel sprouts

Image courtesy of John Cranwell, AE Cranwell & Sons

However, little is known about the causes of oedema in brussel sprouts and how it can be managed. Oedema has been associated with increased water absorption when transpiration rates are low, leading to enlarged cells that protrude from the surface and eventually die causing discoloration.

In collaboration with AE Cranwell & Sons, we are aiming to:

  1. Establish the relationship between weather, irrigation and other management practices in the field with the development of oedema.
  2. Identify and characterise environmental conditions that contribute to oedema by using a controlled environment (for example, investigating the impact of different soils, field capacity, water-logging conditions and temperatures on oedema formation).
  3. Characterise oedema formation and possible genetic variation in resistance to oedema.

Students wishing to further their knowledge of agronomy, plant physiology, and horticulture would be ideally suited to this field of research. Techniques or skills learnt will include microscopy; basic plant growth, tissue sampling, measuring transpiration and other physiological parameters, data analysis and interpretation.


Professor Amanda Able, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Professor Amanda Able
Professor in Plant Science in the School of Agriculture Food and Wine. Her areas of expertise are broad ranging across plant physiology and plant pathology. They include epigenetics of plants faced with stress, understanding plant-pathogen interactions, stress priming and transgenerational inheritance, postharvest physiology and mycology.

Tagged in Honours projects - Agricultural science, Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Amanda Able, Honours projects - Food and Nutrition Science