Genome Prairie’s “Prairie Gold” project will deliver two niche industrial crop varieties of Camelina sativa and Brassica carinata. These oilseed crops are both related to the highly successful Brassica napus (canola). The project is a 3 year, $4.5 million initiative that is funded to September 2013 through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) between the Government of Canada (Western Economic Diversification) and the Government of Saskatchewan (Enterprise Saskatchewan).
The goal is not to produce another commodity food crop, but to seed-on-contract controlled acreage of a niche market industrial oilseed. This will ensure segregation from the food supply, and will maintain high-value for producers and downstream manufacturers of formulated bioproducts.
The oil from these crop varieties will be used exclusively as an optimized feedstock for industrial formulation of both fuel and non-fuel bio-products. Thus, these industrial crops will form the anchor for high value bioproducts that are sustainable, biodegradable, and renewable. As such, the end goals for crop breeding can be vastly different from those of traditional varieties. Levels of different long chain fatty acids (oils) can be optimized for different industrial processes for manufacturing different end products. Levels of glucosinolates can be increased and purified for use as natural pesticides.
Optimization of these industrial crop varieties is facilitated by the use of genomic tools which can build on the knowledge and expertise already gained in established Brassica research and development programs. These include marker assisted breeding potential and isolation of useful genetic regulatory elements for developing exclusive industrial crop varieties.