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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #431253

Research Project: Genomics and Phenomics to Identify Yield and Drought Tolerance Alleles for Improvement of Camelina as a Biofuel Crop

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2020-21410-007-002-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2016
End Date: Aug 31, 2022

Sustainable, alternative fuels represent a promising solution to help reduce carbon emissions, expand domestic energy sources, contribute to price and supply stability, and stimulate economic development in rural communities. The success of biofuels lies in finding inexpensive feedstocks that do not compete with food crops and can be cultivated economically in diverse geographical regions and agricultural production systems. These alternative sources must be renewable, with positive social, economic, and environmental performance. Camelina (Camelina sativa) is an old world crop newly introduced to the semiarid west of the United States. Camelina is lower yielding than canola (food oil crop), but more compatible with shorter production cycles (60-90 days) that have potential for springsown crop rotations. The crop also grows fairly well in marginal lands, with low inputs, and has a high oil content (~35%). The overall goal of this project is to discover useful gene/alleles controlling seed yield and oil content and quality for biofuels under sustainable agricultural systems and characterize novel germplasm with enhanced oilseed feedstock characteristics to develop newly adapted, high-yielding cultivars for these systems. The objectives of the work are to 1) Develop automated, non-destructive high-throughput phenotyping (HTP) protocols to evaluate genetic diversity accession panels of camelina; 2) Discover alleles/genes controlling morphological, physiological, seed, and oil yield properties using genome-wide association studies (GWAS); and 3) Identify and test useful germplasm under diverse environments and marginal production areas.

This proposal will combine the power of genomics-based approaches with newly developed high-throughput phenotyping technologies to discover useful gene/alleles controlling important agronomic traits. Diversity panels of camelina will be cultivated under well watered and water-limited conditions and analyzed using both greenhouse and field-based HTP approaches. Genomic information will be generated using genotyping-by-sequencing technologies, then GWAS will be performed in silico to connect genotypic markers to agriculturally important traits. To validate and extend these studies, we will test plant selected plant lines in different geographical regions to evaluate the stability of traits, crop performance, and identification of cultivars that are most suitable for certain regions. Partners on this project include scientists from ARS labs in Maricopa, AZ and Morris, MN; the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, and the University of Florida, Quincy, FL.