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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Alters Plant Fatty Acid Production

May 18, 2012

Scientist Joseph Noel and colleagues at Iowa State University reported an interesting discovery in a family of plant proteins known as chalcone-isomerase. This discovery may have significant implications for agriculture and biofuel development.

"This is a beautiful study demonstrating that chalcone-isomerase arose from another important class of proteins, which have no enzymatic activity but bind fatty acids," said Greg Warr, acting deputy director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, which funded the study.

Noel and team found that chalcone-isomerase cousins bundles in the chloroplast, the specialized part of the plant cell responsible for photosynthesis and production of essential fatty acids including omega-3 fatty acids. When the team altered the genes coding for the chalcone-isomerase cousins, reproductive changes became evident in the plants. The changes in the genes had an effect on the seed-oil content, which is important for energy stores of the plant embryo, for human nutrition, and for new kinds of renewable fuels.

For more information, read the article at http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=124191.