Camelina oil is gaining prominence as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel and jet fuel. The crop’s oil profile can also be enhanced for other applications such as high value lubricants and bioplastics. The residual meal left over after oil extraction is an attractive feed supplement for livestock and aquaculture operations. The crop has a number of advantages for production in the Canadian Prairies including resistance to common pathogens and pests, notably blackleg and flea beetles, high tolerance to drought conditions, and represents another option for producers in their crop rotation.
Recognizing the important potential for this emerging crop, Genome Prairie’s “Prairie Gold” project was initiated as a public-private partnership to increase the intellectual and technical resources available to the growing bio-products sector – this included the development of a full genome sequence of Camelina. On August 1st, 2013, the Prairie Gold team announced the successful completion of this objective and has made this information available to all stakeholders in the sector.
Camelina is a technically difficult species to sequence, and the latest in next-generation sequencing techniques were needed in order to assemble a complete and high quality genome sequence. One interesting feature is that the gene complement appears to be almost three times larger than that of Arabidopsis thaliana, the closely related species that is widely used as a model in laboratory settings. This is likely the result of two genome duplication events in a common ancestor in Camelina’s evolutionary past.
According to Reno Pontarollo, CEO of Genome Prairie, “the completion of the Camelina genome sequence marks an important milestone that will enable local businesses to be more innovative in developing Camelina-based value-added industrial bioproducts.”
The most important use of the genome sequence will be for current and future breeding applications. “When combined with a high-density genetic map, also developed as part of the project, we now have the most complete picture of the Camelina genome to-date,” said lead Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist, Isobel Parkin.
Jack Gruscow, CEO of Linnaeus Plant Sciences, added that “the genome sequence and the associated resources will be a core resource for developing improved Camelina varieties that will help us develop mutually profitable partnerships with producers while providing an environmentally friendly, high value product to our clients.”