Biotech Updates

GM Plants Promise Fish Oils Aplenty

August 9, 2017

New research findings support the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Camelina sativa, one of Europe's oldest oil seed crops. Scientists have reproduced results showing that the transgenic camelina plants can grow in the field. They have matched the seeds' biosynthetic products more closely to those of their marine counterparts, and have identified the potential for even greater oil storage in the seeds.

GM camelina, engineered with genes from marine microbes, can produce two highly sought after omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and the even longer chain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA and DHA are important in fighting the global increase in cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.

Results published by Nature in Scientific Reports show how a second year's field trial of GM camelina in 2015 confirmed the results from the previous year. It also shows how the team was able to reduce the level of unnecessary omega-6 fatty acids in the transgenic seeds to match more closely the mix in marine fish oils. "Demonstrating that our GM camelina works in the field under real world conditions confirms the promise of our approach," says Johnathan Napier, Leader of the Camelina Programme at Rothamsted Research.

For more details, read the Rothamsted Research News.