Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Knock out of FAE1 Gene Improves Camelina Seed Oil Quality

April 11, 2018

Camelina (Camelina sativa) is a low-input oilseed crop that has great potential. However, it is necessary to upgrade camelina oil to meet application requirements since it contains significant amounts of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs). The team of Mehmet E.Ozseyhan from Montana State University in the US aimed to reduce VLCFAs by deactivating the Fatty Acid Elongase1 gene (FAE1) in camelina.

The allohexaploid camelina contains three alleles of FAE1 genes. Knockout mutants were successfully developed in a single generation by simultaneously targeting these three FAE1 alleles using the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. VLCFAs were reduced to less than 2% of the total fatty acids compared to over 22% in the wild types. The fae1 mutants were also indistinguishable from wild type in seed physiology and plant growth.

This study demonstrates that the CRISPR-Cas9 technology is applicable to camelina to obtain desired traits in its seed oil. The study also provides an approach to increasing the levels of oleic acid or α-linolenic acid in camelina oil, which are also desirable for industrial or food and feed uses.

For more information, read the article in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.