©Rothamsted Research
©Rothamsted Research

US agricultural bioscience company Yield10 Bioscience is working with UK-based Rothamsted Research on the development of advanced technology for producing omega-3 oils in camelina, Yield10 announced on 12 November.

Yield10 signed a collaboration agreement with Rothamsted to support the institute’s Flagship Programme which comprises the plant-based production of omega-3 (DHA+EPA) nutritional oils that closely mimic the composition of southern hemisphere fish oil, an important ingredient in aquaculture feed.

Omega-3 oils were also essential for human nutrition and had demonstrated benefits in heart health, Yield10 said.

Harpenden-based Rothamsted Research is a leading non-profit research centre that focuses on strategic agricultural science.

Over the last decade, the team led by science director Prof Johnathan Napier has demonstrated the production of DHA+EPA oils in camelina seed.

The team has also carried out multi-year field trials and multiple feeding studies using the DHA+EPA camelina oil in different fish species including salmon.

Under the agreement, Yield10 will provide support to Prof Napier’s ongoing research including further DHA+EPA trait improvement, field testing and nutritional studies.

“Yield10 shares our vision for developing camelina as a commercial crop for omega-3 oils based on a land-based route to production,” said Prof Angela Karp, Rothamsted director and CEO.

“Successful commercialisation of this technology could have significant benefits, offering sustainable production of an oil essential for nutrition and wellness to consumers, as well as providing crop diversification to growers.”

As part of the collaboration, Yield10 has an exclusive two-year option to sign a global, exclusive or non-exclusive license agreement to the omega-3 technology.

“Yield10 is developing camelina as a platform crop for the production of nutritional oils and PHA biomaterials and we believe there is significant market opportunity for omega-3 oils produced in camelina and the technology developed by Professor Napier and his team at Rothamsted is highly complementary to our development efforts in camelina,” said Oliver Peoples, president and CEO of Yield10 Bioscience.

The partnership would provide an opportunity to further assess Rothamsted’s omega-3 oil technology while Yield10 would continue to focus on developing elite varieties of camelina and establishing a business plan for the commercial development of the oil, Peoples said.

Woburn-headquartered Yield10 develops crop systems and uses its ‘Trait Factory’ and its camelina ‘Fast Field Testing’ system to develop seed traits for the agriculture and food industries.

The company is pursuing a partnering approach with major agricultural companies to drive new traits into development for canola, soyabean, corn and other crops.

Yield10 is also developing improved camelina varieties as a platform crop for the production and commercialisation of nutritional oils, proteins, and PHA biomaterials.

The company is also field-testing novel yield traits in canola.