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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Plants' Oil-Production Accelerator Also Activates the Brakes

July 3, 2019

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered that the protein that turns on oil synthesis also activates a protein that puts the brakes on the same process.

The scientists found that a protein known as BADC exerts its braking mechanism by inserting itself into ACCase, a key enzyme involved in making fatty acids. From another study, the team explored the signaling protein WRINKLED1 (WRI1) which turns on the enzymes for fatty acid synthesis, including parts of ACCase, and serves as the on switch for the oil-synthesis pathway.

The team did not find the connection between WRI1 (on switch) and BADC (off switch) until the lead authors observed that plants with mutations in genes for either protein had unusually short roots. Further investigation led them to conclude that both proteins are linked to the root growth defect. 

For more details, read the news release in the Brookhaven National Laboratory Newsroom.