Date of this Version
Plant Biotechnology Journal (2015) 13, pp. 38–50 doi: 10.1111/pbi.12233
Seed oils enriched in omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acids, including palmitoleic acid (16:1Δ9) and cis-vaccenic acid (18:1Δ11), have nutraceutical and industrial value for polyethylene production and biofuels. Existing oilseed crops accumulate only small amounts (<2%) of these novel fatty acids in their seed oils. We demonstrate a strategy for enhanced production of omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acids in camelina (Camelina sativa) and soybean (Glycine max) that is dependent on redirection of metabolic flux from the typical Δ9 desaturation of stearoyl (18:0)-acyl carrier protein (ACP) to Δ9 desaturation of palmitoyl (16:0)-acyl carrier protein (ACP) and coenzyme A (CoA). This was achieved by seed-specific co-expression of a mutant Δ9-acyl-ACP and an acyl-CoA desaturase with high specificity for 16:0-ACP and CoA substrates, respectively. This strategy was most effective in camelina where seed oils with ~17% omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acids were obtained.
Further increases in omega-7 fatty acid accumulation to 60–65% of the total fatty acids in camelina seeds were achieved by inclusion of seed-specific suppression of 3-keto-acyl-ACP synthase II and the FatB 16:0-ACP thioesterase genes to increase substrate pool sizes of 16:0-ACP for the Δ9-acyl-ACP desaturase and by blocking C18 fatty acid elongation. Seeds from these lines also had total saturated fatty acids reduced to ~5% of the seed oil versus ~12% in seeds of nontransformed plants. Consistent with accumulation of triacylglycerol species with shorter fatty acid chain lengths and increased monounsaturation, seed oils from engineered lines had marked shifts in thermotropic properties that may be of value for biofuel applications.