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Kirk Amundson's Research

Field pennycress has shown promise as a cover crop and next-generation oilseed crop. To date, little agronomic improvements have been made to pennycress, meaning weedlike characteristics such as secondary seed dormancy and asynchronous germination have not yet been eliminated. Years of work in the closely related and extensively studied Arabidopsis have provided a wealth of knowledge which has been applied for the evaluation of dormancy in pennycress. In this study, field pennycress accessions from Minnesota and Illinois were treated with either EMS or oryzalin to induce random point mutations or autopolyploidy, respectively. Individual EMS mutants displayed achromatic leaf sectors, an indication of EMS-induced mutations, which will be identified in later works via TILLING—sequencing of targeted genes. Individual oryzalin mutants showed abnormal phenotypes and were characterized via guard cell size analysis and quantification of nuclear DNA. Ongoing efforts are aimed at identifying parent lines for a plant breeding program.