Biotech Updates

Researchers Modify Castor Oil Plants to Produce Bio-lubricants

June 26, 2009

Researchers at the University of Almeria in Spain are working to develop genetically modified castor oil plants with altered seed oil composition. The researchers, led by Federico García Maroto, have identified a series of genes and promoters that could increase the concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic and palmitic acids, in castor oil seeds. Oils with high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids are ideal for use as bio-lubricant. The oxidation rate of vegetable oils strongly depends on its fatty acid composition. High-oleic acid oils, for instance, resist oxidation, reducing the amount of chemical processing and additives required.

Several research institutions and universities in Spain are working together to develop bio-lubricant-producing castor oil plant varieties suitable to the agronomic conditions in the country.

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