New approaches to facilitate rapid domestication of a wild plant to an oilseed crop: Example pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.)

John C. Sedbrook, Winthrop B. Phippen, M. David Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Oilseed crops are sources of oils and seed meal having a multitude of uses. While the domestication of soybean and rapeseed took extended periods of time, new genome-based techniques have ushered in an era where crop domestication can occur rapidly. One attractive target for rapid domestication is the winter annual plant Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.; pennycress; Brassicaceae). Pennycress grows widespread throughout temperate regions of the world and could serve as a winter oilseed-producing cover crop. If grown throughout the USA Midwest Corn Belt, for example, pennycress could produce as much as 840. L/ha oils and 1470. kg/ha press-cake annually on 16 million hectares of farmland currently left fallow during the fall through spring months. However, wild pennycress strains have inconsistent germination and stand establishment, un-optimized maturity for a given growth zone, suboptimal oils and meal quality for biofuels and food production, and significant harvest loss due to pod shatter. In this review, we describe the virtues and current shortcomings of pennycress and discuss how knowledge from studying Arabidopsis thaliana and other Brassicas, in combination with the advent of affordable next generation sequencing, can bring about the rapid domestication and improvement of pennycress and other crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-132
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Evan Johnson and Kevin Dorn for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the University of Minnesota , Western Illinois University , Illinois State University , and Pennycress Energy Company, Inc.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Domestication
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Oilseed
  • Pennycress
  • Thlaspi arvense


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