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Plant Cell. 1998 Nov;10(11):1889-902.

Accumulation of very-long-chain fatty acids in membrane glycerolipids is associated with dramatic alterations in plant morphology.

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  • 1Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing the Arabidopsis FATTY ACID ELONGATION1 gene under the control of the 35S promoter from cauliflower mosaic virus accumulated very-long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) throughout the plant. In some transformants, C20 and C22 VLCFAs accounted for >30% of the total fatty acids, accumulating at the expense of C16 and C18 fatty acids. These C20 and C22 fatty acids were incorporated into all of the major membrane glycerolipid classes. Plants with a high VLCFA content displayed a dramatically altered morphology, which included the failure of flowering shoots to elongate, a modified spatial pattern of siliques, an altered floral phenotype, and a large accumulation of anthocyanins. In addition, these plants also exhibited a unique alteration of the chloroplast membrane structure. We discuss a possible role for VLCFAs in establishing the shape/curvature of the membranes, which in turn may affect the shape of the cell and ultimately that of the whole plant.

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