Mar. 11, 2022
Yield10 Bioscience, Inc. (Nasdaq:YTEN) (“Yield10” or the “Company”), an agricultural bioscience company, announced recent advances in the development of Camelina as a platform for the production of PHA bioplastic directly in the seed. Field work completed during 2021 supports the Company’s decision to begin seed scale up of prototype PHA spring Camelina lines at acre-scale in 2022. Yield10 is also developing PHA winter Camelina lines and advancing its research program to increase the level and type of PHA production achievable in its Camelina plant varieties.
“Camelina holds great promise as a platform crop for efficient, scalable, low-cost production of PHA bioplastics,” said Kristi Snell, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of Yield10 Bioscience. “Through our research and development efforts to date, Yield10 expects to contribute significantly towards the global effort to produce biodegradable materials targeted for consumer packaging and food service items while also helping to reduce the amount of petroleum-based plastic waste currently polluting the world’s land and oceans. There is real momentum driving the Company’s innovative pace of Camelina PHA trait development and its ultimate commercial deployment for year-round harvest using both spring and winter lines.”
Yield10 plans to breed an optimized PHA trait into the elite herbicide and disease resistant varieties of Camelina currently advancing in its pipeline with the expectation to process PHA Camelina to achieve the integrated economics of simultaneously producing three seed products: PHA bioplastic, feedstock oil and protein animal feed. Seed based PHA bioplastic would represent a major new market for farmers.
Summary of Yield10’s Development Program for Producing PHA in Camelina
Utilizing a metabolic engineering approach, Yield10 deployed a pathway for producing PHA bioplastic in the seed of Camelina. Recent advancements include:
2021 Field Test results: In 2021 Yield10 tested the two prototype PHA (C3014 and C3015) producing spring Camelina lines at sites in the U.S. and Canada. Results showed that C3015 lines produced PHA at the 6 percent level as measured as a percent of seed weight, consistent with results observed in field tests conducted in 2020.
2022 Seed Scale up Plan: Permitting is underway to plant PHA (C3015) Camelina line at acre-scale this year. This will enable production of PHA for process development and product sampling.
Development of winter PHA Camelina lines: Yield10 has recently developed winter Camelina varieties containing the PHA (C3014 and C3015) trait. The first field planting of these lines is planned for winter 2022/2023.
Ongoing Second-Generation R&D Program: Yield10’s ongoing second-generation research and development program is focused on improving the level of PHA in the seed of Camelina to 10-20 percent. In addition, work is underway to create PHA pathways that enable the production of PHA co-polymers in Camelina. The successful production of PHA co-polymers would expand the range of properties available for PHA produced in Camelina resulting in broader target applications.
Background on PHA Bioplastics
Global plastic waste is estimated at 380 million metric tons per year. The largest market for plastics today is for packaging materials, and it accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste generated globally, where most of it is never recycled or incinerated. We believe there may be significant market opportunity for producing PHA biomaterials in Camelina in the future. PHA biomaterials (PHAs) are natural microbial high molecular weight polymeric storage polymers. These polymers are natural polyesters and can be recovered from the microbes which produce them and processed using standard plastics processing equipment into a range of product forms. The production of PHA bioplastics in Camelina could represent an entirely new market opportunity for farmers. This opportunity could provide economic returns for farmers to justify large acreage adoption of Camelina as a cover crop and enable the low-cost production of this product for new markets including water treatment and sustainable biodegradable plastics replacement applications.