Chinese researchers improve camelina yields, growth rate

By Erin Voegele | April 06, 2012

A group of researchers representing two Chinese universities have published a peer-reviewed research paper in the Biotechnology for Biofuels scientific journal that investigates how the overexpression of purple acid phosphatase 2 (AtPAP2) can improve growth rates and yields in camelina. The paper, titled “Overexpression of AtPAP2 in Camelina sativa leads to faster plant growth and higher seed yields,” was accepted and published by the journal on April 2.

According to the paper, overexpression of AtPAP2 encoded by Aradipopsis, a plant often used as a laboratory model, promotes plant growth by modulating carbon metabolism. In fact, varieties in which AtPAP2 is overexpressed produce 50 percent more seeds, said the research team. For this particular study, the team evaluated how overexpressing AtPAP2 in camelina would impact growth and yield rates. The study notes that Arabidopsis thaliana and Camelina sativa are both members of the Brassicaceae family.

“Through overexpression of AtPAP2, transgenic camelina lines grow faster and produce more seeds than wild-type (WT) plants under controlled environmental conditions,” said the authors in the study. “These phenotypes are attributable to elevated photosynthetic rates and SPS activity in leaves. Higher seed yield would make cultivation of camelina more economical and environmentally friendly. High seed yield per unit area would enhance biofuel production and reduce consumption of fossil fuels, thus reducing CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions.”

According to the paper, the analysis includes three lines of camelina with AtPAP2 overexpression. The results showed that all three lines started flowering seven to nine days earlier than WT lines. They also produced more branches, grew faster and flowered earlier. The report also noted that the study also included analysis of the resulting oil seeds. The paper shows that seed rates from the overexpressed plants were between 50 and 110 percent higher than those of WT camelina.

“Overexpression of AtPAP2 promoted camelina growth through effects on carbon assimilation and distribution,” concluded the authors in the study. “More importantly, improved seed yield could enhance the value of camelina as a low-input crop for biofuel production and for various industrial and agricultural applications.”

Authors of the report include Youjun Zhang, Feng Sun and Cook L. Lim, from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Biological Sciences; Laura Yu and Dennis Y. C. Leung, from the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Ka-Fu Yung, from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology. A fully copy of the report can be downloaded from the journal website. 


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