Genomics to Increase Canola Yield

The canola industry accounts for nearly a third of the gross production value of all Canadian crops, generating $1.48 billion and nearly 16,000 jobs in Ontario. The industry has set a goal of increasing canola yield by 53 per cent in the next 10 years to meet increasing global demand. New technologies are needed to meet this goal. Ontario researchers are collaborating with Benson Hill Biosystems to address this challenge and produce game-changing varieties of canola.

Led by Dr. Peter Pauls, Dr. Michael Emes and Dr. Ian Tetlow at the University of Guelph, the research team has identified genes that increase yield in model plants and other crops that are being incorporated into canola. These new traits are expected to significantly enhance crop productivity by increasing photosynthetic capacity, metabolic efficiency and stress tolerance, without negatively impacting seed quality. This research team is working with Benson Hill Biosystems (BHB), a crop improvement company, to develop higher-yielding plants with increased photosynthetic efficiency, enhanced nutritional profiles and healthier oil content. These innovations will significantly increase crop yields, increase carbon capture, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The results of this project will enable commercialization of the improved plants through licensing or collaborative development agreements. Increasing the yield of the canola crop benefits growers and others across the value chain, boosting industry revenues by $3-$4 billion per year.

Quick Facts
  • As one of the healthiest sources of fatty acids, canola could be the key to satisfying increased consumer demand for lower trans fats in foods.
  • Benson Hill Biosystems has established a Canadian subsidiary, Saturn Agrosciences, for this game-changing canola project, resulting in newly created jobs for Ontarians including the general manager position held by Dr. Lomas Tulsieram.
  • Based in Guelph, Ontario, Saturn Agrosciences has a single focus: to create healthier, more sustainable varieties of canola.
  • Benson Hill’s and Saturn Agrosciences’ approach lies in CropOS™, a machine learning platform and suite of genomics tools that helps researchers identify and optimize genes to develop better crops. This innovative platform enables them to bring improved crops to market faster.

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