to have an enhanced preference for substrates containing ricinoleic acid. Researchers are currently investigating other transgenes which could be potentially useful in further boosting the
content of ricinoleic acid. One of the major bottlenecks has to
do with the effective release of ricinoleic acid by acyl editing
from its site of formation in the endoplasmic reticulum.
Global plant oil production is dominated by oil palm, soybean,
oilseed rape, and sunflower. The process of TAG formation in
developing seeds of oil crops involves de novo fatty acid syn-
thesis in the plastid and export of fatty acids from this organ-
elle followed by a complex interplay between the Kennedy
pathway and membrane metabolism with variations in metabo-
lism which are species-dependent. Plant breeding has resulted
in the development of oil seed lines with increased seed oil
content and altered fatty acid composition. Specific molecu-
lar strategies for increasing seed oil content are based on our
growing knowledge of seed oil biosynthesis and the regulation
of this process. Molecular approaches for boosting seed oil
content can benefit from comparative MCA, which has proven
useful in identifying bottlenecks in the flow of carbon into seed
oil. In turn, MCA can be used to guide metabolic engineering
to increase seed oil content. The fatty acid modifications that
can be achieved through conventional breeding or chemical
mutagenesis breeding are limited. The production of new fatty
acids in oil crops requires the introduction of transgenes from
other sources which have the capability of producing these fatty
acids. For example, at this time, it is only possible to produce
EPA and DHA in terrestrial plants by introducing transgenes
from organisms such as marine algae. Nevertheless, steady prog-
ress is being made and the future production of specialized oil
crops seems assured.
Helen K. Woodfield and John L. Harwood are with the Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK. Harwood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randall J. Weselake is with Alberta Innovates Phytola Centre (RJW), Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional
Science, University of Alberta, Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
He can be contacted at email@example.com
RFW is grateful for the support provided by Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, the Canada Research Chairs Program
and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. JLH thanks the Biotechnology and Biological
Sciences Research Council (UK) for their generous support.
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