Get updates on COVID-19 research at COVID-19 Resource
Crop Biotech Update

False Flax Can Produce High Levels of Omega-3 Oils

November 20, 2013

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have successfully engineered the metabolic processes in the seed of false flax (Camelina sativa) to produce up to 12 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 14 percent docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are found in amounts very similar to those found in fish oil.  EPA and DHA are considered omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for health. They modulate both metabolic and immune processes and confer the health benefits associated with cardiovascular heart disease (CHD) and neurodevelopment.

Scientists used a plant that is rich in a-linolenic acid (ALA) which is the building block used to produce EPA and DHA Omega-3 oils. Having identified in marine algae and other photosynthetic marine organisms the essential genes required to make these beneficial oils, they assembled them together and introduced these genes to the false flax plant. In the first instance, five genes were introduced and on average 24 percent of the total oil content in the plant seed was EPA. Scientists then introduced seven genes yielding an average 8 percent of DHA as the total oil content in the seed, and 11 percent  EPA. There were instances that these percentages were 14 percent and 12 percent respectively. The average accumulation of these oils in the transgenic false flax plants is comparable to those found in fish oil but false flax makes none of these naturally.

See Rothamsted Research's news release at http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/news/crop-plants-green-factories-fish-oils.