Date of Completion

8-23-2016

Embargo Period

8-23-2017

Advisors

Dr. Ana Legrand, Dr. Julia Kuzovkina

Field of Study

Plant Science

Degree

Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

It is important to fully understand the ecological implications of introducing new crop species and genetic traits because of potential hazards such as changes in native plant populations or the establishment of aggressive weeds. Conversely, the introduction of new crops and traits could provide ecological benefits such as providing pollen and nectar forage for pollinators. Camelina sativa (camelina or false flax) is an oilseed crop that is being genetically engineered (GE) for the production of biofuel, bioplastics, and dietary supplements for humans and animals. Relatively little scientific information exists about camelina cultivation, reproductive biology, and ecology. The primary research goals of this thesis were to: 1) understand seed establishment, growth, and development of the crop in Connecticut, 2) identify and quantify pollinating insects present in the field, and 3) to determine the potential for camelina to become a serious weed in natural and managed landscapes. Camelina was grown at the University of Connecticut Research Farm for three years (2014-2016) and data was collected from replicated subplots, transects, and insect exclosures. Field experiments showed that low precipitation and high temperatures in the early part of the growing season negatively impact seed germination, crop establishment, and yield. Seed yield in 2014 was 531 kg/ha and in 2016 was 1096 kg/ha. Field observations suggested that pollen-mediated gene flow could occur through insect pollinators. Pollinating insects from the orders Hymenoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, and Coleoptera were captured while visiting camelina flowers. Experiments showed that camelina was competitive with agricultural weeds and did not require herbicides. These experiments have provided new knowledge about camelina crop development, yields, and insect interactions. These results will help government regulators, farmers, and companies make decisions regarding the future use of camelina with novel traits

Major Advisor

Dr. Carol Auer

Available for download on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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