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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Research Project #434928

Research Project: Evaluation of Ecosystem Services Provided by Camelina Sativa as a Cover Crop for Northern Climates

Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology Research

Project Number: 3060-21220-033-01-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2018
End Date: Dec 31, 2020

Camelina (Camelina sativa) has value as an oilseed feedstock for biofuels and bioproducts but summer- and winter-biotypes are also being evaluated in northern climates of the USA for ecosystem benefits associated with improving soil health, suppressing weeds and soybean cyst nematode egg populations, and providing early-season nutritional sources for pollinators. We have acquired a population of 279 accessions of Camelina summer- and winter-biotypes. However, preliminary studies at both the phenotypic and genotypic level have determined that this population may contain accessions that have been incorrectly classified as summer- or winter-biotypes. An excellent example includes the 2017 field test trial of a winter-biotype provided by a seed company as “winter Camelina”, which turned out to be a summer-biotype. Objectives of this project are to 1) phenotype our population of 279 Camelina accessions for summer- and winter-biotypes, 2) determine morphological characteristics associated with growth and development of summer- and winter-biotypes, 3) determine biochemical characteristics (% fatty acid, oil and protein) of seed from summer- and winter-biotypes, and 4) determine ecosystem services (weed suppression and nutrient retention) provided by winter-annual biotypes of Camelina sativa as a cover crop and component of double-cropping systems in northern climates of the U.S.

Obj. 1: The 279 accessions will first be phenotyped for summer- and winter-biotypes by determining if plants will bolt, flower and produce seed without a vernalization treatment. Accessions that bolt within the first 6-8 weeks of growth and also flower and produce seed will be classified as summer-biotypes. Winter-biotypes with freezing tolerance will be determined by vernalizing non-bolting accessions for 8 weeks at 5oC followed by a freezing treatment at -15oC for 4 hours. Plants that survive under ambient greenhouse conditions for 2 week following the freeze treatment will be classified as winter-biotypes with freezing tolerance. Obj. 2: A subset of summer- and winter-biotypes (approximately 73 accessions) will be germinated in environmental growth chambers and various morphological characteristics associated growth and development of plantlets will be recorded weekly over 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, those plants that do not bolt will be subjected to an 8 week vernalization treatment at 5oC. All plants in this subset will be grown to maturity and seed yield will be determined on a 1000 seed weight basis. Obj. 3: To determine biochemical characteristics (% fatty acid profiles, oil, and protein) of summer- and winter-biotypes of Camelina seed, a non-destructive method incorporating a Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRS) will be used. To calibrate the NIRS, we will first determine %fatty acid profiles obtained by Gas Chromatography (GC) from seed extracts of the same subset of summer- and winter-Camelina accessions used in Obj. 2. Likewise, wet chemistry data obtained for % seed oil and protein will also be used to calibrate the NIRS. Seed from all 279 accessions within our Camelina population will then be analyzed by NIRS for % fatty acid, oil and protein content. Obj. 4: Several winter-annual biotypes will be grown in replicated field settings to determine impact of planting date on winter survival and yield. This objective will also determine ecosystem services provided by winter biotypes of Camelina as cover crops including spring-time suppression of weeds and nutrient retention. This field study will be replicated in both space and time.