Anne Runkel ‘11: Environmentally Caused Chemical Constituent and Nutritional Variation in the Oilseed Crop Camelina sativa

Session: Slow Growth- MBH 216 at 10:25 am from the Undergraduate Research Spring Symposium
Faculty Sponsor: Helen Young, Biology
Major: Biology
Research Support: Priscilla (Kay) Beck ’52 Botany Fellowship

It is important to understand how crops will respond to climate change. Temperature, water availability, and insect predation influence crop yield and may also affect crop nutrients. Camelina sativa (camelina), an oilseed crop high in omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), grows best in cold climates of southwestern Canada and northwestern US. In this study, camelina seeds and leaf tissue were grown at different temperatures and analyzed for FAs; glucosinolate levels were also studied in leaf tissue. This study’s findings suggest that higher temperatures significantly reduce omega-3 FAs and glucosinolates in camelina. Humans evolved with a 1:1 dietary ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s; however, the average ratio today is 15:1 to 25:1 and contributes to health disorders around the world. Will higher temperatures imbalance the FA ratio further? Based on these findings in camelina, further research must determine if the nutritive value of major crops will also be altered by climate change. This research was conducted at Montana State University with assistance from Dr. David Sands and Dr. Alice Pilgeram.

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