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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Engineer Safflower to Produce Healthier Oil

June 6, 2018

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) deficiency and a skewed n6:n3 fatty acid ratio in the diet are some of the major reasons why there is prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory/autoimmune diseases. With more evidence of the healthful benefits of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC PUFA's), there's an increasing demand for fish oil and meal. However, due to several reasons, the fish supplies do not match the increasing need for healthy oils. Thus, one alternative being explored by experts is the metabolic engineering of transgenic plants with the capacity to produce n3 LC-PUFAs.

Scientists from Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation investigated the capability of transgenic safflower to produce pharmaceutically important alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3, n3). Safflower accumulates ~78% of the total fatty acids as linoleic acid, which is the immediate precursor of ALA.

ALA production was confirmed to be produced in the safflower seeds after transforming hypocotyls with Arabidopsis specific delta 15 desaturase (FAD3) driven by truncated seed specific promoter. Biofortified safflower was shown to be not just a source of potentially valuable nutritional superior novel oil, but also exhibited reduced ratio of LA to ALA which is optimum for good health.

Read the research article in Transgenic Research.