Canadian Biomass Magazine

Decoding of camelina first step in biofuels

August 26, 2013
By Scott Jamieson

August 26, 2013, Saskatoon, SK - Genome Prairie has sequenced the camelina sativa genome, which it says is a key step in developing sustainable biofuels.

Camelina, an oilseed crop popular in Europe prior to the dominance of
rapeseed and canola, is increasingly recognized as a valuable
industrial oil platform.  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 Grushcow, 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.”

The genome sequence and its annotation are available at
in a genome viewer format and enabled for sequence searching and
alignment.  A full peer-reviewed publication of the genome sequence is

This research was made possible through a partnership between Genome
Prairie, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the National Research
Council Canada with funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada
and the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Economy.

Genome Prairie, a non-profit-organization, aligns partners and
resources to develop and manage research projects addressing key
regional priorities such as agriculture, human health, the environment,
energy and mining. These efforts are playing a central role in building
the region’s reputation as a location of choice for innovation and
commercialization. For more information, visit

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