UK Scientists Create Cereal Crop That Produces Fish Oil in its Seeds
Scientists at Rothamsted Research in Britain have successfully produced the first cereal crop that produces omega-3 fish oil in its seeds.
The objective of the research is to discover alternative ways to produce fish oil to be used in feed for the aquaculture industry. Fish do not produce fish oil – wild fish obtain fish oil through the consumption of marine algae, meaning farmed fish without access to this algae need to be fed smaller wild caught fish, such as anchovies and sand-eels, to provide them with a source of omega-3 oil in their diet. This practice. however, is unsustainable and scientists have been working to develop a land-based source of the oil for sustainable aquaculture production.
Using genetically modified Camelina sativa, or ‘false flax’, the team was able to produce a land-based crop with up to 15% of the oil produced in its seeds being omega-3 fish oil, and concentrations in the field trial plots were equal to laboratory-grown genetically modified plants with no loss of productivity or yield.
“The omega-3 fish oil trait that we have developed is probably the most complex example of plant genetic engineering to be tested in the field,” said Professor Johnathan Napier, lead scientist of the project. “This is a globally-significant proof of concept and a landmark moment in the effort to develop truly sustainable sources of feed for fish farms.”