Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enhancing Biofuels from Genetically-Engineered Camelina

Location: Plant Genetics Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The proposal addresses major challenges in plant yield and lipid metabolism and function. It will advance the development of energy-enriched crops that can be dual-cropped with soybean. The objective of the research is to increase biomass by improving carbon fixation in the leaves and additionally increase oil production in plant seeds by studying the impact of overexpression and/or silencing of enzymes and transporters that will enhance primary metabolism.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Develop isotopic labeling techniques to track primary metabolism in plant tissues through operation of central carbon metabolism that enables oil production and increased biomass yield. Mutants in lipid composition in the seeds as well as carbon sequestration in the leaves generated by Co-PI’s will be compared to wild type plant tissues for differences at the level of primary metabolism and to provide signatures for potentially successful or unsuccessful transgenic stacking combinations.


3.Progress Report:

The research is focused on improving the understanding of central carbon metabolism that leads to altered oil production in plant tissues. This work addresses the parent project plan objective: To improve our understanding of carbon, energy, and redox source and sink partitioning within plants through explorations of primary metabolism by labeling investigations, and by making use of systems biology methods including flux analysis.

The goal of this project is to characterize molecular phenotypes by quantifying the biochemical level impact of transgenic modifications in comparison to wild type. To increase the productivity of Camelina we explored transgenics that will increase photosynthetic efficiency, including carbon fixation, and also raise the net energy of the seeds by increased oil content. We anticipated that attempts to engineer Camelina would generate mixed results and therefore we studied the wild type in comparison to different transgenic lines to better understand metabolism. Camelina is not a well-domesticated or well-studied crop; therefore initial investigations focused on characterizing the metabolic phenotype of the different tissues that provide important benchmark data for comparison to transgenic lines. Within the first quarter, products of metabolism for different aged plants were measured including growth, oil, protein, and starch production. The composition of amino acids, fatty acids in seeds, as well as starch, sucrose and chlorophyll levels in leaves were examined. Oil and protein accounted for approximately 30% and 32% of total biomass respectively, while starch production was negligible and mature seed weight was approximately 1-1.2 mg dry weight. Glutamine and glutamate are the predominant amino acids which account for approximately 16% of total amino acid composition in protein with most other amino acids at less than 10% each. The baseline values will be compared with production in mutants.


Last Modified: 12/27/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page