Yield 10 Biosciences Winter Camelina Field Trials in 2021.

Yield10 life sciences

In President Joe Biden’s recent address to Congress, he made an important point about the climate plan that will affect the agtech sector. In his speech, he revealed that farmers are paid to grow catch crops, which help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Catch crops are camelina, rye, buckwheat and a few others.

Yield10 Bioscience, an agtech company using genetic research tools, has conducted field trials to increase the seed and oil yield of the high quality cover crop Camelina sativa (Camelina). The company sees considerable potential as a winter catch crop in Camelina.

Pay for cover crops

“Farmers who plant catch crops so they can reduce carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for it,” said President Joe Biden in his address to Congress.

Cover crops are plants that are used to cover the ground instead of being harvested. They are able to store carbon while protecting the soil in the off-season. This is often referred to as soil carbon sequestration and has been studied by both farmers and scientists to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create more value for future agricultural production by enriching the soil.

In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, catch crops can make food production more sustainable by improving soil health and preventing nutrients from leaching into water. While catch crops have these benefits, they are an economic loss to the farmer.

“One of the goals of Biden’s climate plan is to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52% by 2030, for which he needs the help of farmers. Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of the US Greenhouse Gas Protection Agency’s emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “said Dr. Oliver Peoples, CEO of Yield10 Bioscience.

By paying for catch crops, the climate plan gives farmers an additional incentive to grow them and at the same time improve the environment.

Gene editing cover crops

Yield10 Bioscience develops both spring and winter varieties of the oilseed Camelina as a catch crop. The company aims to make camelina a high quality cover crop so that growers can also benefit from the plant’s proteins and oils. Yield10 Bioscience uses CRISPR, a gene editing technology, to study the plant.

The company has discovered and evaluated several genes to increase seed yield, seed oil content for plants in general, and the production of new sustainable products from the camelina plant. They have conducted greenhouse experiments and field trials with Camelina to determine the potential for developing and commercializing new seed yields, oil grades and products.

“We are developing higher harvest value Elite Camelina strains based on the increased seed yield and oil content made possible by our novel genetic traits,” said Peoples.

Yield10 Bioscience partnered with a leading US seed company to scale up its CRISPR-edited higher oil line E3902 seeds, as well as two other elite camelina lines. This cycle of seed enlargement will enable future planting on the 100 to 1,000 acre scale while producing oil and meal for customer samples.

In addition to the E3902 line, which contains changes to three genes involved in oil biosynthesis, Yield10 Bioscience has licensed a number of genetic traits from the University of Missouri that show promise in increasing oil levels in oilseeds. They have confirmed with USDA-APHIS that several Camelina lines containing changes to C3007 (BADC) are exempt from regulation in the US. They are testing the C3007 trait in camelina and believe it is also showing promise for boosting the oil in canola and soybeans.

Yield 10 Biosciences Winter Camelina Field Trials in 2021.

Yield10 life sciences

CO2-negative biodegradable plastics and new partnerships

Earlier this year, Yield10 Bioscience reached a proof-of-concept milestone for the production of natural PHA bioplastics in field-grown Camelina sativa plants that are genetically programmed to produce PHA bioplastics directly in seeds. Often referred to as PHA bioplastics, PHAs are natural polyesters. They are useful in a variety of plastic applications and are fully biodegradable in the environment.

In field trials conducted in the United States and Canada, the PHA Camelina lines grew and matured later than control plants, but once established showed good vigor, branching, flowering and seeding compared to control plants. The best lines produced up to 6% PHA in the seed.

“This is a great example of how we are using the best of nature to reduce our reliance on plastics for many of the things we use in everyday life by removing carbon dioxide from the air rather than oil or gas from the ground is removed is carbon-negative biodegradable, “said Peoples.

Yield10 Bioscience also announced a recent partnership with Rothamsted Research in the UK. Yield10 Bioscience supports Rothamsted’s flagship program to develop omega-3 oils in Camelina sativa. The technology developed by Professor Napier’s team in Rothamsted has demonstrated the production of omega-3 nutrient oils (DHA and EPA) in Camelina, which are very similar to the composition of natural fish oil, an important component of aquaculture feed.

“Plant-based fish oil alternatives with all the health benefits and without the smell of harvested fish oil have great potential to sustainably meet the growing demand for these oils in aquaculture and nutrition while reducing the pressure on our oceans,” said Peoples.

In anticipation of growing camelina in very large areas, the company is also working on herbicide tolerance and disease resistance traits to enable sustainable direct production, reduce grower costs and protect crop yields. Catch crops create a second growing season for new products such as biofuels and bioplastics, while increasing the production of protein for food and feed.

The future for cover crops

The demand for catch crops is growing due to the focus on sustainability and their ability to capture carbon, crop diversification and profitability for farmers. Catch crops like camelina also offer omega-3 oil and plastic alternatives. Identifying new and high quality genetic traits can improve the performance of camelina and other plants.

“Given the macroeconomic challenges of climate change and increasing food production, it is clear to scientists that we will need all the genetic tools available to sustainably feed the world’s growing population. From a broad industry perspective, we believe there is increasing adoption of CRISPR genome editing and an improving regulatory environment for agtech and biotech in the agribusiness, “said Peoples.


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