Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1989;28(2):139-73.

Cuphea: a new plant source of medium-chain fatty acids.

Author information

  • Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.


The plant genus Cuphea (family Lythraceae) promises to provide a new source of industrially and nutritionally important medium-chain fatty acids, especially of lauric acid now supplied exclusively by coconut and palm kernel oils from foreign sources. The seed lipids of Cuphea were first discovered in the 1960s to contain high percentages of several medium-chain fatty acids, including caprylic, capric, lauric, and myristic acid. Research is still in the early stages, but it is intensifying toward the goal of developing the genus into a new temperate climate crop for production of specialty oils. Given the diversity of Cuphea seed lipid composition and the wide ecological and distributional range of the genus, it may be possible to tailor crops to produce selected fatty acids on demand under a variety of growing conditions. Cuphea comprises about 260 species, most native to the New World tropics. Its morphology, classification, chromosome numbers, distribution, ecology, and folk uses are presented. Seed structure is described and seed lipid composition for 73 species is summarized. Problems in domestication and agronomic progress are reviewed. Knowledge of the biosynthetic mechanism controlling the lipids produced by Cuphea remains very limited. Future research in this area, and particularly successful employment of gene transfer techniques, may allow genes controlling the mechanism to be transferred to an already established seed oil producer such as rapeseed. Presently, both traditional plant breeding techniques and newer biotechnological methods are directed toward Cuphea oilseed development.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

LinkOut - more resources

Full Text Sources

Molecular Biology Databases

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk