Rothamsted Research

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Making omega-3 fish oils in GM Camelina plants

An exciting BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival (GBBF) exhibit prepared by Prof. Johnathan Napier (Rothamsted Research) and Prof. Douglas Tocher (Institute of Aquaculture Stirling) research teams

Our exhibit has been showcased at:

BBSRC’s Great British Bioscience Festival 
14-16 November 2014
Cheltenham Science Festival Explore Zone 
7 – 8 June 2014 
Edinburgh Royal Highland Show 
19-22 June 2014

The science behind the exhibit

Omega-3 fish oils are good for us but they are a finite and limited resource.

There are not enough beneficial omega-3 fish oils in the sea to satisfy our dietary requirements.

Could plant genetic modification be a way to help solve this problem?

Omega-3 fish oils are beneficial for our health and can help reduce our risk of heart attacks. However, they are a finite and limited resource. There are not enough beneficial omega-3 fish oils to satisfy our dietary requirements. Rothamsted Research scientists have developed GM Camelina plants that produce omega-3 fish oils when grown in the glass houses. Currently they are testing the performance of these plants in the field. Parts of the research are undertaken in collaboration with Prof Douglas Tocher's research group, which specialises in fish nutrition at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling.

For more information on the science please visit the Rothamsted Camelina pages and University of Stirling Institute of Aquaculture

At this exhibit the public will:

  • be informed about the current sources of omega-3 fish oils and the challenges that this poses for nutritious, healthy, sustainable food production including aquaculture
  • explore and discuss plant biotechnology as a tool for alternative sustainable terrestrial sources of omega-3 fish oils
  • learn about the principles of genetics and GM plants

What to expect

  • Interactive computer game – Camelina Caper, a fast paced, light hearted adventure that puts the player in control of a fish frantically searching for plankton and dodging jellyfish
  • Camelina plant seeds GM/non-GM
  • Video demonstrating laboratory procedures
  • Fish oils/several vegetable oils-rape, linseed – differences of oils rich in omega-6, omega-3 or fish feed pellets of different sizes
  • Camelina plants

Download Alpha & Omega resources

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All of the download resources have been designed by Rothamsted’s in-house Visual Communications Unit

Camelina Caper

Camelina Caper, the latest project from, is a light hearted glimpse into the work of Rothamsted Research, produced for the BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival exhibit Alpha & Omega; making fish oils in GM plants. The exhibit will be first showcased at Cheltenham Science Festival Explore Zone on the 7th-8th of June 2014.

Take control of Gerald, a fish living in dangerous, jellyfish infested waters, desperately collecting chains of algae to keep the timer running and the score counter ticking, and grab the Camelina flowers for a quick boost. You’ll need speed and precision to achieve high scores, so challenge your friends to see if they’ve got what it takes to beat you!

 Get it on Google Play