INVESTIGATORS: Chaofu Lu (PI), John Browse
INSTITUTIONS: Montana State University, Bozeman; Washington State University, Pullman
PROJECT SUMMARY: Camelina (Camelina sativa) is a low-input, non-food oilseed plant that has great potential to become a sustainable high energy-yielding source of biofuel in the US. This project aims to address two critical needs for realizing this potential: to increase seed size and oil content for improved seedling establishment and oil yield, and to optimize oil quality for satisfactory fuel properties. Specifically, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and molecular markers associated with these important traits will be identified using high-density genome maps and repeated field trials in Montana and Washington states. Modern genomics and biotechnological approaches will be employed to uncover novel molecular mechanisms (including genes and gene networks regulated by microRNAs and transcription factors) regulating fatty acid modification, oil accumulation and seed size in Camelina.
This project will result in several natural and engineered Camelina lines with advanced traits like large seed and high content of high-quality oil. Increased oil content in larger Camelina seeds will greatly boost harvestable oil yield and improve the ability to establish seedlings particularly under unfavorable field conditions. Camelina oils containing ultrahigh oleic (>80%) and enhanced palmitoleic acids will greatly improve fuel properties such as enhanced oxidative stability and cold flow. Because novel approaches will be explored to engineering beneficial traits in Camelina, this program will also contribute to understanding fundamental mechanisms regulating oilseed metabolism and physiology. Specifically, identification of genes and molecular markers associated with seed size, oil content and other important agronomic traits will facilitate the development of the next generation Camelina varieties. Novel gene regulatory networks uncovered by studying microRNAs and transcription factors will greatly advance the understanding of plant lipid metabolism, and provide new tools for improving oil qualities of many oilseed crops. In addition, this project will provide training opportunities for several young scientists such as graduate students and postdocs in plant genomics and biotechnology.
Name: Lu, Chaofu