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Physiol Plant. 2008 Jan;132(1):1-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2007.00998.x.

Engineering oilseeds to produce nutritional fatty acids.

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  • 1Crop Genetics Research, DuPont Experimental Station, PO Box 80353, Wilmington, DE 19880-0353, USA.


There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that regular consumption of foods rich in omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids has multiple positive health benefits. The fats and oils from marine fish contain high contents of these beneficial fatty acids but increased consumer demand has also increased strain on the ability of the world's fisheries to meet demand from wild capture. Many consumers are choosing fish oil supplements or are eating foods that have been complemented with fish oils instead of consuming fish directly. However, removing undesirable odors, flavors and contaminants is expensive. In contrast, oils derived from land plants such as soybean are inexpensive and contaminant free. Recent strides in plant molecular biology now allow the engineering of oilseeds for the production of novel fats and oils, including those synthesized by complex, multigene biosynthetic pathways such as the omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Given the potential benefits to the environment with regards to overfishing and the health prospects of increased consumption of these healthy fatty acids, producing these fatty acids in oilseeds is a desirable and worthy goal. In this review, we will describe the recent advances in this field along with some of the technical hurdles encountered thus far.

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