Plant Science Innovation, Center for


Date of this Version



Nwafor CC, Li D, Qin P, Li L, Zhang W, Zhou Y, Xu J, Yin Y, Cao J, He L, Xiang F, Liu C, Guo L, Zhou Y, Cahoon EB and Zhang C (2022) Genetic and Biochemical Investigation of Seed Fatty Acid Accumulation in Arabidopsis. Front. Plant Sci. 13:942054. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.942054


Open access.


As a vegetable oil, consisting principally of triacylglycerols, is the major storage form of photosynthetically-fixed carbon in oilseeds which are of significant agricultural and industrial value. Photosynthesis in chlorophyll-containing green seeds, along with photosynthesis in leaves and other green organs, generates ATP and reductant (NADPH and NADH) needed for seed fatty acid production. However, contribution of seed photosynthesis to fatty acid accumulation in seeds have not been well-defined. Here, we report the contribution of seed-photosynthesis to fatty acid production by probing segregating green (photosynthetically-competent) and non-green or yellow (photosynthetically-non-competent) seeds in siliques of an Arabidopsis chlorophyll synthase mutant. Using this mutant, we found that yellow seeds lacking photosynthetic capacity reached 80% of amounts of oil in green seeds at maturity. Combining this with studies using shaded siliques, we determined that seed-photosynthesis accounts for 20% and silique and leaf/stem photosynthesis each account for ~40% of the ATP and reductant for seed oil production. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and pyridine nucleotides and ATP analyses revealed that seed photosynthesis provides ATP and reductant for oil production mostly during early development, as evidenced by delayed oil accumulation in non-green seeds. Transcriptomic analyses suggests that the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway could be the source of carbon, energy and reductants required for fatty acid synthesis beyond the early stages of seed development.