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14 June 2024

Rothamsted has granted Yield10 Bioscience, Inc., based in Massachusetts USA, an exclusive global, commercial license to advanced technology for producing sustainable omega-3 products in Camelina sativa (“Camelina”).  The culmination of over 20 years of research, the engineered Camelina plants have the potential to commercially produce omega-3 oil on land at scale for the first time. Such oils are widely used in the aquafeed, petfood, and nutritional supplement markets. 

The licensing is the final step in a long journey by scientists at Rothamsted, led by Professor Johnathan Napier, to find a land-based and more sustainable source of heart-healthy omega 3 oils by inserting algal genes into the oilseed plant Camelina. Producing omega-3 fatty acids in this way will help meet growing global demand for eicosapentaenoic acid (“EPA”) and docosahexaenoic acid (“DHA”). Currently, the primary source of EPA and DHA is ocean-caught fish, where omega-3 oil produced from the annual Peruvian anchovy harvest is the industry benchmark. Over the last few years, there has been increasing pressure on the supply of omega-3 oil due to increased demand and environmental pressures on oceanic stocks. Producing omega-3 fatty acids in Camelina may represent a way to enable a predictable and sustainable supply of high-quality omega-3 oils to meet the growing global demand for EPA and DHA, by making fish oils in plants.

The licensing represents a significant achievement for UK bioscience expertise. Whilst British research in metabolic engineering has long been world-leading, very few UK bio-engineered crops have so far made the final leap to commercial translation and exploitation. 

This technology could have significant benefits, offering sustainable production of an oil essential for nutrition and wellness to consumers, as well as providing crop diversification to growers

“Over the last three years, the Yield10 team has provided us with expertise and support as our team has advanced the development of engineered Camelina from field testing to planting at multi-acre scale to produce omega-3 oil,” said Professor Angela Karp, Rothamsted director and chief executive officer.  “Yield10’s innovations and capabilities in Camelina are impressive and successful commercialization of this technology could have significant benefits, offering sustainable production of an oil essential for nutrition and wellness to consumers, as well as providing crop diversification to growers. We look forward to the commercialization of omega-3 oils by Yield10 in the years ahead.” 

“Enabled by the Rothamsted technology, we are on a promising path to commercializing elite omega-3 producing varieties of Camelina that combine good agronomics in the field while also producing high-value, high-purity omega-3 oils possessing very attractive economics,” said Oliver Peoples, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Yield10 Bioscience. “In 2024, we are positioned to execute on the scale-up of omega-3 producing Camelina and to submit key regulatory filings with the goal of being ready for an initial commercial launch into the oil and meal markets.  We also look forward to improving the current Camelina varieties over time particularly with the deployment of herbicide tolerance and other performance traits.”

Prof Napier in glasshouse
Professor Johnathan Napier with Camelina Plants in the glasshouses at Rothamsted

 In late 2020, Yield10 began a collaboration with Rothamsted to support Rothamsted’s BBSRC funded programme to develop omega-3 oils in Camelina. Drawing on research started over two decades ago, Professor Napier’s team has demonstrated the production of omega-3 oils in Camelina seed and conducted evaluations of the oils in salmon feeding and human clinical studies to demonstrate lipid lowering effects. 

“This is a major step towards realising our dream of delivering an engineered crop with both environmental and consumer benefits,” said Professor Napier. “Developing such new varieties takes many hours of painstaking lab work, field trials and analysis, but I have been fortunate to work with many talented and dedicated colleagues who have contributed to this exciting outcome.”


Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries in areas as diverse as crop management, statistical interpretation and soil health. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative approach to developing innovative farm practice.
Through independent research, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally, with economic impact estimated to exceed £3 bn in annual contribution to the UK economy. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and multiple partnerships.
Rothamsted is home to three unique National Bioscience Research Infrastructures which are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests to push back the frontiers of biology and deliver a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future. Through our investments, we build and support a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive community which delivers ground-breaking discoveries and develops bio-based solutions that contribute to tackling global challenges, such as sustainable food production, climate change, and healthy ageing.
As part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), we not only play a pivotal role in fostering connections that enable the UK’s world-class research and innovation system to flourish – we also have a responsibility to enable the creation of a research culture that is diverse, resilient, and engaged.
BBSRC proudly forges interdisciplinary collaborations where excellent bioscience has a fundamental role. We pioneer approaches that enhance the equality, diversity, and inclusion of talent by investing in people, infrastructure, technologies, and partnerships on a global scale.


The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.