Final results from the Total Utilization Flax Genomics (TUFGEN) project were presented at the Annual Flax Research Workshop in Winnipeg on February 25, 2014. Managed by Genome Prairie, the project was aimed at increasing the versatility and benefits of flax through the application of genome-based tools to assist breeding and new trait development.
Notable outcomes from the project included the development of new genotype-by-sequencing methods, discovery of novel cyclic peptides with pharmaceutical potential, demonstration of flax lignan health benefits, and development of a high-stearidonic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) line of flax.
Participating in the meeting were stakeholders from industry, academia, and both federal and provincial governments. Attending for Phytola were Scientific Director Dr. Randall Weselake, and Director of Business Development Dr. Joseph Boothe. Dr. Weselake’s presentation described the success achieved to date and future potential for using flax to produce nutraceutical oils such as stearidonic acid and punicic acid (the most abundant fatty acid in pomegranate seeds) along with their potential health benefits.
Particularly exciting were results obtained by one of Phytola’s collaborators, Dr. Catherine Field. Her worked showed that a diet containing stearidonic acid flax oil was able to reduce the size of tumors in mice, pointing the way to potential new cancer treatments.