Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Modification of fatty acid composition in plant storage oil by genetic engineering

The use of rapeseed oil as a renewable resource (eg as biofuel or as raw material for the oleochemical industry) has gained increased interest. Novel applications of rapeseed oils in the oleochemical industry require a considerable effort in rapeseed breeding including gene technology. Conventional breeding of canola (high oleic acid versus high erucic acid) demonstrated the potential for significant changes in oil quality without negatively effecting yield. Our particular focus is to develop rapeseed lines as temperate crop containing fatty acids with designed chain lengths of 10 to 14 carbon atoms in their seed oils, which may serve as raw material for laundry detergent, shampoo and other surfactant. These types of seed oils are naturally found in palmkernel, coconut or wild species like those of the genus Cuphea. Cuphea lanceolata, for instance, predominantly accumulates up to 83% of capric acid (C10) in its storage triacylglycerols. Therefore genes encoding medium-chain specific fatty acyl-(ACP) thioesterases (FatB) responsible for these traits of interest were identified in Cuphea lanceolata. In this species FatB consists of a small multigene family of at least four members.
Two of these gene members, when expressed in transgenic Brassica napus seem to encode two distinct traits in transgenic rapeseed lines, one specific for C8/C10 fatty acids, the other for C14/C16 fatty acids. Both these genes are specifically expressed in embryos of C. lanceolata and their promoters confer embryo-specific reporter gene expression in rapeseed. With this in mind a collaboration with EU partners deals with the transfer of these genes into sunflower in order to genetically engineer sunflower oil for industrial application.

Reported by

Max-Planck-Institut fuer Zuechtungsforschung
Carl von Linne Weg 10
50829 Koeln
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