Making of a More Sustainable Canola: Using Genetic Diversity to Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency

Agronomy Research 
Start Date
End Date
Principal Investigator
Sally Vail - AAFC (Saskatoon)
Isobel Parkin - AAFC (Saskatoon), Rosalind Bueckert - University of Saskatchewan, Raju Soolanayakanahally - AAFC (Saskatoon), Melissa Arcand - University of Saskatchewan, Steve Robinson - AAFC (Saskatoon), Andrew Sharpe - Global Institute for Food Security, Leon Kochian - Global Institute for Food Security, Reynald Lemke - AAFC (Saskatoon), Bobbi Helgason - AAFC (Saskatoon), Victor Sadras - South Australian Research and Development Institute
MCGA Funding
Total Project Funding
External Funding Partners
Canadian Agricultural Partnership, Canola Council of Canada, Alberta Canola, SaskCanola
Project Ongoing...

Research Objective

  • To understand how canola takes in nitrogen, distributes it in the plant, and how it affects growth
  • How main cultivars differ in their response to nitrogen
  • The nature of root-microbial-soil nitrogen interactions
  • To establish nitrogen uptake, in-plant distribution and use affecting yield under different management rates and placement

Project Description

Improving the nitrogen use efficiency of canola would reduce nitrous oxide emissions which would benefit the longevity, sustainability and competitiveness of the industry as a whole. Currently greenhouse gas emissions are a documented problem that take away from the benefits seen from it as a nitrogen-fixing crop. With innovations in the fertilizer industry, there are many new management options available in terms of fertilizer rate/application, timing/placement/type, seeding depth, and seedbed preparation. To better understand how to manage nitrogen, how canola hybrids get nitrogen, how nitrogen moves around inside of them, and how nitrogen is stored inside of hybrids needs to be understood. That is the purpose of this study - to understand how nitrogen is used efficiently in canola hybrids and to characterize how it is used in the above-ground versus roots of the plants, as well as how it is affected along its growth timeline and when canola flowers. Through this study, breeders will be able to predict the nitrogen-response for canola lines without having to test individual lines, and longer term be able to pair canole lines with nitrogen-fertilizer agronomic practices that will reduce nitrogen loss.

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