Special Issue "New Oilseed Crops for Biofuel and Biobased Applications"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Federica Zanetti
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture and Food Sciences (DISTAL), Università di Bologna – Alma Mater Studiorum, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Interests: agronomy and physiology of oilseed crops; biomass crops; natural rubber; protein crops; sustainable cropping systems; biobased products;
Dr. Christina Eynck
Co-Guest Editor
Saskatoon Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, S7N 0X2 Saskatoon, Canada
Interests: agronomy; crop breeding and genetics; alternative cropping systems; genomics; phenomics; microbiome research; plant pathology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

 Oilseed crops are a valuable source of vegetable oils, which can be converted to biofuels and other biobased products through various chemical transformations. New oilseed crops are gaining the attention of both scientific and industrial audiences in view of their unique fatty acid compositions, new rotation options, and the ability to grow an oilseed crop on land where commodity oilseed production is not currently economically viable, creating opportunities for  novel industrial applications and the replacement of petrochemical feedstocks with sustainable alternatives. The integration of new oilseed crops into existing agricultural systems requires research in areas ranging from genetic improvement and agronomic management to life cycle and value chain analyses. New oilseed crops include camelina, crambe, pennycress, carinata, Indian mustard, castor bean, safflower, cuphea, Andean lupine, hemp, and others.  This Special Issue will focus on “New Oilseed Crops for Biofuel and Biobased Applications”. We welcome novel research and reviews covering a range of topics in oilseed crops, including crop genetics and improvement, production management, biodiversity, crop physiology, phytoremediation, integration of industrial oilseed crops into food cropping systems, growing oilseed crops on marginal land, modeling, lifecycle assessment, economics and marketing, and policy.

Dr. Federica Zanetti
Dr. Christina Eynck
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agronomy is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • industrial crops
  • agronomic management
  • phytoremediation
  • plant breeding
  • genetics
  • fatty acid composition
  • green chemistry
  • sustainability
  • oleochemicals

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Oil Content and Fatty Acid Composition in Castor Bean Naturalized Accessions under Mediterranean Conditions in Chile
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1145; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081145 - 06 Aug 2020
Castor bean is found in Chile between the Arica and Parinacota and Maule regions and is one the most important industrial crops worldwide because of the presence of ricinoleic acid in its oil. However, there is little information about it in our country. [...] Read more.
Castor bean is found in Chile between the Arica and Parinacota and Maule regions and is one the most important industrial crops worldwide because of the presence of ricinoleic acid in its oil. However, there is little information about it in our country. In this study, we analyzed the oil content and fatty acid profiles of 17 castor bean Chilean accessions from the Metropolitana and Valparaíso regions. The seed-oil was extracted using the Soxhlet extraction process, and the fatty acid profiles were determined using the GC-FID method. The oil content in castor bean Chilean accessions ranged between 45.7% and 54.0%. Among the 17 accessions analyzed, H-15 had the highest oil content (54.0%; p < 0.05), whereas the H-10 and H-08 accessions had the lowest oil content, (45.7% and 45.9%, respectively; p < 0.05). Ricinoleic acid was the most abundant fatty acid (between 87.64% and 89.83%) in the seed-oil. The highest level of ricinoleic acid was found in the H-08 accession. This was only statistically higher (p < 0.05) for three accessions, whereas the H-04 accession had the lowest ricinoleic acid content. Although the H-08 accession registered one of the least abundant oil contents, it had the highest amount of ricinoleic acid. No significant correlation was found between oil content and ricinoleic acid. Our study suggests that oil content does not influence the castor oil fatty profile. The high oil content and ricinoleic acid level registered in castor bean Chilean accessions justify their production in Chile and their utilization for developing bio-based products. Furthermore, Chilean castor bean could grow in semi-arid lands. However, further field studies are needed to identify the cultivars best suited for Mediterranean conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Oilseed Crops for Biofuel and Biobased Applications)
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Open AccessArticle
Germination Patterns in Seeds Produced in Apical and Basal Fruits of Two Thlaspi arvense Populations
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 756; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050756 - 25 May 2020
The aim of the present work is to study possible differences in the germination behavior of apical and basal seeds (produced in the upper and lower fruits of the infruitescence), of two populations of field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), both produced in [...] Read more.
The aim of the present work is to study possible differences in the germination behavior of apical and basal seeds (produced in the upper and lower fruits of the infruitescence), of two populations of field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), both produced in a Mediterranean and a continental temperate climate. The results showed that among the three studied factors (population, seed type, production site), only the production site was relevant for the total germination, germinating those produced in Morris in a greater amount than those produced in Lleida. Germination models could be applied only to seeds produced at Morris (>10% germination), and despite the lack of differences in the total germination percentage, germination rates (speed—b parameter—and time to 50% germination—G50) differed between population and seed types—apical seeds from the Spanish population germinated faster (lower b parameter) than the rest, while apical seeds of both populations germinated faster than the corresponding basal seeds (lower G50). The results show, on the one hand, the importance of the seed production site if this species was considered as a commercial oilseed crop and, on the other hand, differences that will help seed selection for seed germination and establishment improvement of pennycress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Oilseed Crops for Biofuel and Biobased Applications)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Crambe abyssinica: a high-value oilseed with potential to improve
Authors: Dulan Samarappuli1, Federica Zanetti2, Marisol Berti1*
Affiliation: 1Dept. of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State Univ., Fargo, ND 58104, USA; 2 Dept. of Agricultural and Food Science, Univ. of Bologna, Bologna, Italy;
Abstract: Crambe seeds contain high levels of erucic acid (C22:1), a fatty acid of importance for industrial applications. Inclusion of crambe into crop rotations will be beneficial due to its short life cycle, low fertility requirements, resistance to pest and diseases, and relative drought tolerance. Currently, high erucic acid rapeseed (HEAR) is considered the prominent source of industrial erucic acid. However, the risk of contaminating food-quality rapeseed (canola) by cross-pollination and the negative impact on climate is problematic in HEAR cultivation. Crambe has great potential to at least partially replace HEAR as a source of erucic acid, if the knowledge-gaps in agronomic management and crop improvement can be addressed.

Title: Is tolerance to drought stress affected by seed size and biotype in the emerging oilseed crop camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz)?
Authors: Ana Marjanović Jeromela1, Petar Čanak1, Biljana Kiprovski1, Bojana Vujošević 1, Miroslav Zoric1, Federica Zanetti2
Affiliation: 1 Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Maksima Gorkog 30, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia 2 Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (DISTAL), Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Italy.
Abstract: The emerging oilseed crop camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz) is gaining interest worldwide due to its wide environmental adaptability in combination with satisfactory seed production and a large portfolio of end-uses, either for food, feed or non-food applications. Despite being not yet widely cultivated, camelina has been identified as a much more resilient species than the “sister crop” oilseed rape (Brassica napus L. var. oleifera), in relation to input requirements, pest and disease resistance, and resistance to abiotic stress (e.g., temperature, drought, etc.). One of the main advantages of camelina compared to oilseed rape is its extreme drought tolerance, also at the germination phase. The availability of both winter and spring camelina biotypes, characterized by different seed sizes, raises the question about possible differences in their response to drought stress at the emergence stage. To address this, under controlled conditions, a germination test was set up comparing 12 different camelina genotypes (6 winter + 6 spring) with differing seed sizes (ranging from 1.83 to 0.88 g/1000-seeds) under increasing levels of osmotic stress (0, -0.4, -0.8, -1.2, -1.6 Mpa) using PEG.

Title: Performance and potentiality of camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz) genotypes in response to sowing date under Mediterranean environment
Authors: L.G. Angelini, L. Abou Chehade, L. Foschi, S. Tavarini
Affiliation: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, via Del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Abstract: Given the growing interest in camelina crop, due to its great environmental adaptability, low input requirements and unique seed oil profile, seven cultivars and two sowing times (spring and autumn) were compared for quantitative and qualitative yield in a Mediterranean environment. For this, a field plot experiment was set up over two years in Central Italy, by adopting a split-plot design with sowing times as main plots and cultivar as subplots, replicated four times in both years. Sowing date and cultivar affected the number of days and GDD accumulated from emergence to 50% flowering: across the year, the number of days decreased as sowing was delayed, passing from 124 days, as mean value over the cultivar, for autumn sowing, to 62 days for spring one. Regarding GDD, very little differences were observed between the two sowing dates (500 vs 478 GDD accumulated from emergence to 50% flowering, for autumn and spring sowing, respectively), while more consistent variations have been detected among cultivars. CAM11 and CAM26 were the earlier ones starting flowering after having accumulated 426.5 and 413.2 GDD in spring sowing respectively, and, 474.3 and 515.7 GDD in autumn sowing. Sowing date significantly affected yield and yield components, except for the number of seeds per siliqua. Autumn sowing increased seed yield per hectare (+18%) and per plant (+65.1%), TSW (+5.2%) as well as seed oil content (+5.5%). The genetic characteristics also played a significant role in defining the agronomic performance of camelina. In particular, CAM32 showed the best seed and oil yield when sown in autumn, whereas CAM11 and CAM2 were the best performing genotypes with a spring sowing. Across years and cultivars, mean seed yield increased from 1.6 to 1.9 t ha-1 from spring to autumn sowing but reached as high as 3.4 t ha-1 with CAM32. Genotype and year did not influence oil content that fluctuated largely between 34 and 44%. A correlation analysis was also performed to understand the relationships between yield components and between them and environmental conditions. These correlations pointed out that both TSW and number of siliques per plant were the key components in defining camelina yield. Camelina compensated to some extent for lower stands by an increase in number of siliques per plant and seeds per siliqua, and higher rainfall amount, especially during spring, seemed to enhance camelina production and oil content. Climatic conditions affected the response of seed oil quality to sowing date, while genotypic characteristics seemed to have a minor effect on the oil profile. However, autumn sowing increased the content of alpha linolenic, eicosenoic, erucic and eicosadienoic acids and the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids. In conclusion, our results can represent the starting point to select, in relation to sowing date, the most suitable cultivars for the Mediterranean environment, in terms of earliness, adaptability, quantitative and qualitative performances.

Title: Response of Brassica carinata A. Braun and Thlaspi arvense L. in soils contaminated with Ni or Cd
Authors: F. Germanà1,2, F. Zanetti2, L. Gomes1, J. Costa1,3, M. Abias1,4, A. Monti2, A.L. Fernando1
Affiliation: 1MEtRiCs/ Departamento de Ciências e Tecnologia da Biomassa, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Caparica, Portugal e-mail: [email protected] 2Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy 3Instituto Superior de Educação e Ciências, Lisboa, Portugal 4Universidade Católica de Moçambique-FGTI, Pemba, Mozambique
Abstract: The increasing demand for biomass for bioenergy and biomaterial production generates land-use conflicts with food crops. To overcome competition for land use , the use of heavy metal-contaminated sites for the production of industrial crops is an option. Moreover, industrial crops may also contribute to the remediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals through phytoremediation processes. The aim of this work was to study the effects of Ni and Cd on the growth, yield and biomass quality of two different oilseeds: Brassica carinata A. Braun and Thlaspi arvense L. The soils were artificially contaminated and the concentrations chosen were based on the limits established by the Decree Law 276/2009 (Portuguese regulation that establishes the guidelines for the use of sewage sludge in agricultural soils) - Ni: 110 mg/kg; Cd: 4 mg/kg; and twice those limits - Ni: 220 mg/kg; Cd: 8 mg/kg. Soils without contamination served as control. In terms of biomass and seed production, B. carinata was affected by Ni but not by Cd. Contrarily, T. arvense biomass and seed production was significantly reduced due to the contamination of the soils by both metals, with yield losses much higher due to Cd. Both crops accumulated Ni and Cd in the aboveground biomass, in the siliques and in the roots, in growing concentrations with increased soil contamination. But, due to the yields obtained, B. carinata had better prospects to simultaneously produce biomass and oil-bearing seeds, along with its ability to remediate contaminated land.

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