Photos by Kayla Altendorf
Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) is a winter annual oilseed crop that is being domesticated to fit into Minnesota’s conventional agricultural system. The benefits of using pennycress include protecting the soil over the winter and early spring to reduce soil erosion, nutrient loss, and weed infestations as well as producing oil that can be used as a biofuel feedstock (Johnson et al. 2015, Sedbrook et al. 2014). Pennycress matures in early spring, allowing farmers to plant a double or relay crop.
Description of plant:
Field pennycress is a diploid species of the Brassicaceae family and is closely related to the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This relationship will allow University breeders to quickly and efficiently domesticate pennycress based on the knowledge of genes that control undesirable traits such as shattering in Arabidopsis. Pennycress seeds are planted in late August-early September, germinate and develop into a rosette form (see Figure 1B). The plant over winters in this stage, flowers and develops seeds in late April-early May and is ready to harvest in early June.
Figure 1: Pennycress seed (A), the plant in its basal rosette form (B), mid flowering stage (C) and its seed pods just prior to senescence (C). Photo Credit: Kayla Altendorf.
The University of Minnesota Pennycress breeding program began in 2013 with the goal of developing high yielding, non-shattering, and high germination varieties. Forty-six winter annual pennycress accessions were evaluated in 2014 and 2015 at multiple locations across Minnesota. These accessions have been used as parents to develop 49 breeding populations being evaluated for traits such as earliness, winter hardiness, germination, yield, total oil and glucosinolate content.
The pennycress genome and transcriptome have been sequenced by the Marks Lab at the University of Minnesota (Dorn et al. 2015). For more details or to download the pennycress genome, please see: pennycress.umn.edu
Integration of field pennycress and camelina in a field corn production system. The objectives are to i) determine optimal corn stover removal rates and subsequent impacts to soil carbon and oilseed productivity, ii) assess the role planting date and seed dormancy plays in establishment and yield for both the oilseeds and subsequent soybean yield along with providing critical information to the breeding/genetics researchers for future directions. Both objectives were designed with the express goal of increasing oilseed production in a double-cropped soybean system. Beyond determining the agronomic practices that increase the profitability and sustainability of Minnesota farmers, this project was designed to strengthen linkages between breeding/genetics and crop production faculty by providing a field orientated context to test and exchange ideas, along with offering interdisciplinary training to our graduate students. To successfully test objective one, corn stover gradients were achieved by removing a portion of the stover. Oilseed growth characteristics will be assessed throughout the season along with measuring soil organic C which provides an indirect assessment of soil health. Winter oilseed production is expected to be hampered by increasing corn stover rates, whereas, the soil organic C pool is expected to increase or at least be greater in the higher stover rates. The role of planted date and seed dormancy will be determined via field studies utilizing oilseed lines of varying dormancy coupled with gibberellin (i.e. removes dormancy) all interseeded into standing corn.
Genomics and Plant Breeding
Kayla Altendorf, Research Assistant, M.S. Student in Applied Plant Sciences
Jim Anderson, Professor, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Kevin Betts, Senior Scientist, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Rebekah Carlson, Research Assistant, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Kevin Dorn, Post Doctoral Research Associate, Kansas State University
Cole Folstad, Undergraduate Student, Dept. of Plant Biology
Katherine Frels, Post Doctoral Associate, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Axel Garcia y Garcia, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Gabe Gusmini, Research Director, PepsiCo, University of Minnesota
Cody Hoerning, Research Assistant, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Evan Johnson, Laboratory Technician, Dept. of Plant Biology
David Marks, Professor, Dept. of Plant Biology
Lance Miller, Research Assistant, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Winthrop Phippen, Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Western Illinois University
John Sedbrook, Associate Professor of Genetics, Illinois State University
Donald Wyse, Professor, Dept. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Kevin Anderson, PhD Student in Applied Plant Sciences
Frank Forcella, USDA-ARS
Russell Gesch, USDA-ARS
Reagan Noland, PhD Student in Applied Plant Sciences
M. Scott Wells, Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Clay Carter, Professor, Department of Plant Biology
Rod Larkins, Director of Research, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station Variety Development Fund
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Award amount $1,000,000
Title: Advancing: Field Pennycress as a New Oilseed Biodiesel Feedstock that does not Require New Land Commitments
PI. M. David Marks - University of Minnesota
CoPI Donald Wyse - University of Minnesota
CoPI James Anderson - University of Minnesota
CoPI John Sedbrook - Illinois State University
CoPI Winthrop Phippen - Western Illinois University
Brief Description: Mutation based (non-GMO) approaches to generate pennycress varieties with desirable phenotypes such as increased yield, reduced dormancy, early maturing, enhanced oil production, more nectar, etc.
Albert Lea Seed House
Gandy Agri-turf equipment www.gandy.net/
Illinois State University
Western Illinois University