Received: 22 May 2020 Revised: 12 Jul 2020 Accepted: 01 Aug 2020 Published online: 01 Oct 2020
Worldwide, broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) is among the most economically important, nutritionally rich, and widely-grown vegetable crops. To explore the genomic basis of the dramatic changes in broccoli morphology in the last century, we evaluated 109 broccoli or broccoli/cauliflower intermediates for 24 horticultural traits. Genotype-by-sequencing markers were used to determine four subpopulations within italica: Calabrese broccoli landraces and hybrids, sprouting broccoli, and violet cauliflower, and to evaluate between and within group relatedness and diversity. While overall horticultural quality and harvest index of improved hybrid broccoli germplasm has increased by year of cultivar release, this improvement has been accompanied by a considerable reduction in allelic diversity when compared to the larger pool of germplasm. Two landraces are the most likely founding source of modern broccoli hybrids, and within these modern hybrids, we identified 13 reduction-in-diversity genomic regions, 53 selective sweeps, and 30 (>1 Mbp) runs of homozygosity. Landrace accessions collected in southern Italy contained 4.8-fold greater unique alleles per accessions compared to modern hybrids and provide a valuable resource in subsequent improvement efforts. This work broadens the understanding of broccoli germplasm, informs conservation efforts, and enables breeding for complex quality traits and regionally adapted cultivars.