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Phytochemistry. 2003 Nov;64(6):1077-90.

Natural variation for seed oil composition in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.


The biochemical pathways involved in the biosynthesis and accumulation of storage lipids in seeds have been extensively studied. However, the regulatory mechanisms of those pathways, their environmental interactions and the ecological implications of variation are poorly understood. We have initiated a new approach: the analysis of natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Three hundred and sixty accessions were surveyed for content of oil, very long chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in their seeds. The results revealed extensive natural variation. A core set of accessions, the seeds of which reproducibly contain extreme amounts of oil, VLCFAs and PUFAs have been identified. Reproducible oil content ranged from 34.6 to 46.0% of seed dry weight. VLCFA content ranged from 13.0 to 21.2% of total fatty acids. PUFA content, ranged from 53.3 to 66.1% of total fatty acids. Interactions were also identified for PUFA and VLCFA content of seeds with vernalisation of plants. Mapping of the regions of the genome involved in controlling the traits was conducted in an F(2) population and indicated that natural variation at the loci FAE1 and FAD3 might be involved in the regulation of VLCFA and PUFA content, respectively. A set of accessions, which capture a broad range of the natural variation for these traits available in A. thaliana, has been selected to form a core set which can be used to further dissect the genetics of the regulation of seed lipid traits and to identify the genes involved.

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