Date of this Version
Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 66, No. 14, pp. 4251–4265, 2015 doi:10.1093/jxb/erv225
Seeds of members of the genus Cuphea accumulate medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs; 8:0–14:0). MCFA- and palmitic acid- (16:0) rich vegetable oils have received attention for jet fuel production, given their similarity in chain length to Jet A fuel hydrocarbons. Studies were conducted to test genes, including those from Cuphea, for their ability to confer jet fuel-type fatty acid accumulation in seed oil of the emerging biofuel crop Camelina sativa. Transcriptomes from Cuphea viscosissima and Cuphea pulcherrima developing seeds that accumulate >90% of C8 and C10 fatty acids revealed three FatB cDNAs (CpuFatB3, CvFatB1, and CpuFatB4) expressed predominantly in seeds and structurally divergent from typical FatB thioesterases that release 16:0 from acyl carrier protein (ACP). Expression of CpuFatB3 and CvFatB1 resulted in Camelina oil with capric acid (10:0), and CpuFatB4 expression conferred myristic acid (14:0) production and increased 16:0. Co-expression of combinations of previously characterized Cuphea and California bay FatBs produced Camelina oils with mixtures of C8–C16 fatty acids, but amounts of each fatty acid were less than obtained by expression of individual FatB cDNAs. Increases in lauric acid (12:0) and 14:0, but not 10:0, in Camelina oil and at the sn-2 position of triacylglycerols resulted from inclusion of a coconut lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase specialized for MCFAs. RNA interference (RNAi) suppression of Camelina β-ketoacyl-ACP synthase II, however, reduced 12:0 in seeds expressing a 12:0-ACP-specific FatB. Camelina lines presented here provide platforms for additional metabolic engineering targeting fatty acid synthase and specialized acyltransferases for achieving oils with high levels of jet fuel-type fatty acids.