Camelina sativa, commonly known as Camelina or false flax, is an annual oilseed plant in the mustard family that is native to Europe, and that we deploy as an essential component of our Trait Factory. Although limited in cultivation in North America and Europe today, Camelina was grown extensively since medieval times for oil and protein but was replaced by the cultivation of rapeseed during the 1940s.
Camelina has the potential to replicate the development of modern canola from rapeseed on an accelerated timeline based on modern technologies including genomics, the Trait Factory, and genome editing. Additionally, it grows on marginal lands, displays early maturation, has enhanced drought and cold tolerance, and requires fewer inputs than other oilseed crops.
Camelina is also naturally resistant to diseases that impact canola, and its fast growth cycle makes it suitable for spring planting in the American Northwest and into Canada. Additionally, the short growing season makes it a cash relay or cover crop candidate suitable for the Upper Midwest corn belt.
With social conscience and sustainability in mind, we’re leveraging innovations in Camelina to identify new performance traits for improving the effectiveness of major crops. Camelina is also our platform crop for producing oil, high-protein meal, and PHA bioplastic.
With a short growing season and 30 million acres of potential, Camelina is an ideal cover crop that can help reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, and control diseases, pests, and nutrient run-off from land that is used for row crop production.
When Camelina seeds are processed for oil extraction, they leave behind a protein. On a dry basis, the meal contains approximately 30-35% protein with a good amino acid profile for feed applications.
The vegetable oil extracted from Camelina seeds could become a key functional ingredient for frying, baking, food preparation, and flavorings such as salad dressings and bread dips.
Through our Trait Factory, we identify and evaluate novel yield trait genes to improve the field performance of Camelina for our products business and to improve the yield and performance of major food and feed crops. So far, we have a pipeline of more than 15 novel yield traits currently in research and development.
Camelina oil can be used as feedstock for renewable diesel. At the federal level, biomass-based diesel qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
Camelina can produce PHA for applications such as animal nutrition, wastewater treatment, and the replacement of petroleum plastics. In the longer term, the production of PHA biomaterials in Camelina will represent an entirely new market opportunity for farmers.
Camelina can become one of the most proficient land-based sources of omega-3 oils (DHA+EPA). As a replacement for the oil that is harvested from fish, it can greatly benefit the aquaculture sector which is seeking to adopt sustainable land-based sources for key feed ingredients.