Close this search box.

Enhancing Canola through Genomics


Generating solutions

  • The creation of important genomic tools for the improvement of canola and other crop plants important to Canada.
  • Number of research personnel employed by the project: 41
  • Number of peer reviewed publications published: 11 plus 1 book and 41 invited presentations.
  • Number of patents in process or obtained: 3 plus 4 disclosures and 1 copyright.
  • Resources generated: Over 250,000 genetic markers (ESTs); 10,000-features DNA.
  • micro-array; gene-clone library; tissue-culture cell lines. All will be
  • made available to the international research community.
  • Number of public outreach events held: 31, including public lectures, magazine articles, TV and radio interviews, website, newsletter, science fair.
  • Co-Funders: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, National Research Council of Canada.






Competition II

Genome Centre(s)



Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched


Project Description

The goal of the Enhancing Canola through Genomics (ECTG) project was to develop and employ genomic tools for the study of seed development and composition in Brassica oilseed crops. During 2003-2004, progress was made in research activities related to seed development and composition and also in areas of collaborations, communications and outreach, thanks to the joint efforts of 67 scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and from the National Research Council. Among this research team, 41 researchers were funded by the project.

Scientists demonstrated canola prototypes with enhanced vigor, increased levels of oil and reduced anti-nutritionals in the meal. Their work will also continue to benefit future scientific studies and accelerate future developments in Canola enhancement since more than 250,000 Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) at different plant development stages will be made available to scientists through GenBank. Additionally, a seed derived microarray with approximately 10,000 unique genes has been developed and is being made available to Canadian researchers. This resource has enabled faster and more targeted breeding activities.

In the seed development activity, a total of 27 cDNA libraries representing different stages of embryo/seed development have been constructed. More than 40,000 ESTs from these libraries were sequenced. Approximately 10,000 unique genes were identified and used for the preparation of a Brassica DNA microarray, an important genomic tool that will be used to improve our understanding of seed development. Preliminary analysis of the EST sequences identified genes that likely play an important role in seed development. These genes are now being studied in more detail.

With regards to seed composition, 17 cruciferin expressed genes were identified and their transcript abundance determined. Strategies are being tested to tailor seeds that produce proteins of greater economic or functional importance. Arabidopsis mutant lines with reduced levels of phytate, sinapine and lignin were identified. The genes controlling these anti-nutrients are being studied for use in Brassica seeds to reduce the level of anti-nutrients and thereby improve the quality and marketability of canola meal.

Notable outcomes:

  • ECTG was valuable for its identification of specific gene traits in Canola, such as oil content, seed size, anti-nutritional level and nitrogen use efficiency.
  • The project contributed 250,000 ESTs to GenBank, ten times the original target of 25,000. These resources are made publically available to the scientific community that is interested in conducting Brassica research.