Molecular tools enabling pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) as a model plant and oilseed cash cover crop

Michaela McGinn, Winthrop B. Phippen, Ratan Chopra, Sunil Bansal, Brice A. Jarvis, Mary E. Phippen, Kevin M. Dorn, Maliheh Esfahanian, Tara J. Nazarenus, Edgar B. Cahoon, Timothy P. Durrett, M. David Marks, John C. Sedbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Thlapsi arvense L. (pennycress) is being developed as a profitable oilseed cover crop for the winter fallow period throughout the temperate regions of the world, controlling soil erosion and nutrients run-off on otherwise barren farmland. We demonstrate that pennycress can serve as a user-friendly model system akin to Arabidopsis that is well-suited for both laboratory and field experimentation. We sequenced the diploid genome of the spring-type Spring 32-10 inbred line (1C DNA content of 539 Mb; 2n = 14), identifying variation that may explain phenotypic differences with winter-type pennycress, as well as predominantly a one-to-one correspondence with Arabidopsis genes, which makes translational research straightforward. We developed an Agrobacterium-mediated floral dip transformation method (0.5% transformation efficiency) and introduced CRISPR-Cas9 constructs to produce indel mutations in the putative FATTY ACID ELONGATION1 (FAE1) gene, thereby abolishing erucic acid production and creating an edible seed oil comparable to that of canola. We also stably transformed pennycress with the Euonymus alatus diacylglycerol acetyltransferase (EaDAcT) gene, producing low-viscosity acetyl-triacylglycerol-containing seed oil suitable as a diesel-engine drop-in fuel. Adoption of pennycress as a model system will accelerate oilseed-crop translational research and facilitate pennycress’ rapid domestication to meet the growing sustainable food and fuel demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-788
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • domestication
  • genome
  • pennycress
  • transformation
  • triacylglycerol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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