A new licensing agreement between three parties will allow CRISPR-Cas9 and similar gene editing tools to be used to produce camelina varieties for biofuel advancement.

Corteva Agriscience, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Sustainable Oils, a subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings, Inc. are the three parties in the agreement. They said the technology will be used to further develop camelina for energy use.

“We are excited to add CRISPR-Cas9 technology to accelerate our camelina breeding practices,” Jerry Feitelson, chief scientific officer of Sustainable Oils, said in a press release. “Using this powerful plant breeding innovation, we expect to further expand our IP portfolio of advanced camelina varieties, which is already the largest in the world. Through state-of-the-art breeding methods, optimal agronomic advances, and large-scale logistics we hope to drive the carbon intensity of our finished fuels close to or below zero."

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Camelina has been eyed as a biofuel feedstock that can also function as a cover crop, allowing producers to practice soil health practices while also generating a harvestable crop. 

Sustainable Oils said the agreement allows it to target specific traits for crop improvement. The company said it hopes to increase oil yield, speed up maturity and improve drought resistance. Overall, its goals include creating a more efficient crop with a lower breeding cost.

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