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MR Malik, J Tang, N Sharma, C Burkitt, Y Ji, M Mykytyshyn, K Bohmert-Tatarev, O Peoples and KD Snell
The rapid assessment of metabolic engineering strategies in plants is aided by crops that provide simple, high throughput transformation systems, a sequenced genome, and the ability to evaluate the resulting plants in field trials. Camelina sativa provides all of these attributes in a robust oilseed platform. The ability to perform field evaluation of Camelina is a useful, and in some studies essential benefit that allows researchers to evaluate how traits perform outside the strictly controlled conditions of a greenhouse. In the field the plants are subjected to higher light intensities, seasonal diurnal variations in temperature and light, competition for nutrients, and watering regimes dictated by natural weather patterns, all which may affect trait performance. There are difficulties associated with the use of Camelina. The current genetic resources available for Camelina pale in comparison to those developed for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana; however, the sequence similarity of the Arabidopsis and Camelina genomes often allows the use of Arabidopsis as a reference when additional information is needed. Camelina’s genome, an allohexaploid, is more complex than other model crops, but the diploid inheritance of its three subgenomes is straightforward. The need to navigate three copies of each gene in genome editing or mutagenesis experiments adds some complexity but also provides advantages for gene dosage experiments. The ability to quickly engineer Camelina with novel traits, advance generations, and bulk up homozygous lines for small-scale field tests in less than a year, in our opinion, far outweighs the complexities associated with the crop.
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