Researchers from the University of North Texas (Denton, Tex.; www.unt.edu) are working on a project to boost the production of seed oil produced by the pennycress plant. This research, supported by the U.S. Dept, of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research, aims to optimize the amount of seed oil produced per plant. “This can be done using traditional cross-breeding methods or bioengineering (or both),” says Ana Alonso, associate professor in the BioDiscovery Institute and the Dept, of BioJogical Sciences. Alonso is planning to increase the seed-oil yield because, when properly processed, the common pennycress can produce 100 gal/acre of oil, which can then be processed into aviation fuel. “The main variety of pennycress found in the U.S. produces around 30 wt.% seed oil. But, we have found some varieties that can produce upwards of 42 wt.%,” she says.