BrassiBase: Tools and biological resources to study characters and traits in the Brassicaceae

Project code: KO 2302/13-2

Fig. 1

Diversity of "wild" Brassicaceae.

We are developing an online-accessible knowledge and database system of cross-referenced information and resources on Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) taxonomy, systematics and evolution, including chromosome numbers, traits and characters, germplasm resources, and accurate enumeration of all species, genera and tribes. Biological, molecular and evolutionary knowledge is exponentially increasing in the mustard family. However, because of the complex and overwhelming biological diversity of the family, it is difficult to assess research results within a larger evolutionary framework. Many species have proven to be remarkable study objects but are rarely available. Biological material and resources, either collected directly in the wild or held in germplasm collections, have often been taxonomically misidentified; and only very rarely has the material been further characterized and documented. There is also no comprehensive survey of character and trait distribution among Brassicaceae lineages, though family-wide phylogenies are meanwhile available. In order to close these gaps, we will make accessible to the scientific community the research data focusing on adaptive characters and their evolution in the Brassicaceae.

The project is bringing together the world-leading expertise from various persons and institutions and close collaboration has been established with Prof. Dr. Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz (Missouri Botanical Gardens, USA) and Prof. Dr. Martin Lysak (Brno).

In this context, we will also provide a comprehensive documentation of the taxonomy and systematics of the entire family. This will include a database with all relevant taxonomic, systematic and phylogenetic literature, a comprehensive data collection of characters and traits, a DNA-based identification tool for genera and species, electronic interactive keys for the identification of genera and species, and a setup of a carefully selected and documented germplasm collection representing main lineages of the family.

Furthermore, taxonomic and systematic expertise is provided for individual projects within the expertise.

This knowledge database, hereafter BrassiBase, has been launched within the framework of the DFG priority programme SSP 1529 "Adaptomics − Evolutionary plant solutions to ecological challenges/Molecular mechanisms underlying adaptive traits in the Brassicaceae s.l." and is accessible via


Publications related to the project

  • Guo X, Liu J, Hao G, Zhang L, Mao K, Wang X, Zhang D, Ma t, Hu Q, Al-Shehbaz IA, Koch MA (2017) Plastome phylogeny and early diversification of Brassicaceae. BMC Genomics. 2017 Feb 16;18(1):176  Weblink Weblink
  • Huang CH, Sun R, Zeng YH, Zhang N, Cai L, Zhang Q, Koch MA, Al-Shehbaz IA, Edger PP, Pires JC, Tan DY, Zhong Y, Ma H (2015) Resolution of Brassicaceae phylogeny using nuclear genes uncovers nested radiations and supports convergent morphological evolution. Molecular Biology and Evolution. [Epub ahead of print]  Weblink Weblink
  • Hohmann N, Wolf EM, Lysak MA, Koch MA (2015) A Time-Calibrated Road Map of Brassicaceae Species Radiation and Evolutionary History. The Plant Cell. 2015 Sep 26. pii: tpc.15.00482. Weblink Weblink
  • Karl R, Koch MA (2014) Phylogenetic signatures of adaptation: The Arabis hirsuta species aggregate (Brassicaceae) revisited. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (PPEES) 16 (5): 247-264,
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2014.06.001. Weblink
  • Jordon-Thaden IE, Al-Shehbaz IA, Koch MA (2013) Species richness of a globally distributed, arctic-alpine genus, Draba L. (Brassicaceae). Alpine Botany 123(2):97-106, DOI: 10.1007/s00035-013-0120-9. Weblink
  • Karl R., Koch M.A. (2013) A world-wide perspective on crucifer speciation and evolution: phylogeny, biogeography and trait evolution in tribe Arabideae. Annals of Botany 112(6): 983-1001, DOI: 10.1093/aob/mct165. Weblink
  • Kiefer M, Schmickl R, German D, Lysak M, Al-Shehbaz IA, Franzke A, Mummenhoff K, Stamatakis A, Koch MA (2013) BrassiBase: Introduction to a Novel Knowledge Database on Brassicaceae Evolution. Plant Cell and Physiology. in press
  • Al-Shehbaz I.A. (2012) A generic and tribal synopsis of the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae). TAXON 61: 931-954. Weblink
  • Koch MA, Kiefer M, German D, Al-Shehbaz Ia, Franzke A, Mummenhoff M,
    Schmickl R (2012) BrassiBase: Tools and biological resources to study
    characters and traits in the Brassicaceae
    - version 1.1. TAXON 61:
    1001-1009. Weblink
  • Koch MA, German D (2013) Taxonomy and systematics are key to
    biological information: Arabidopsis, Eutrema (Thellungiella), Noccaea
    and Schrenkiella (Brassicaceae) as examples
    . Frontiers in Pl. Science,
    DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00267. Weblink


  • Marcus Koch
    Prof. Dr. Marcus Koch
    Principal Investigator
    University of Heidelberg
    Office: +49 (0)6221 / 54-4655
    send email
  • Klaus Mummenhoff
    Prof. Dr. Klaus Mummenhoff
    Co-Principal Investigator
    University of Osnabrück
    Office :+49 (0)541 / 969-2856
    send email
  • Dimitry German
    Dr. Dimitry German
    Postdoctoral Researcher in SPP1529
    Office: +49 (0)6221 / 54-4618
    send email
  • Markus Kiefer
    Dr. Markus Kiefer
    Collaborating Scientist
    Office: +49 (0)6221 / 54-4679
    send email
  • Dr. Peter Sack
    Germplasm curator, technician
    Office: +49 (0)6221 / 54-4618
    send email