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Plant Biotechnol J. 2016 May;14(5):1241-50. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12489. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

Extension of oil biosynthesis during the mid-phase of seed development enhances oil content in Arabidopsis seeds.

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Department of Cell Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan.
Laboratory of Biological Diversity, Department of Evolutionary and Biodiversity, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan.
Department of Basic Biology, SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), Okazaki, Japan.
Spectrography and Bioimaging Facility, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan.
Department of Bioscience, Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology, Nagahama, Japan.


Regulation of oil biosynthesis in plant seeds has been extensively studied, and biotechnological approaches have been designed to increase seed oil content. Oil and protein synthesis is negatively correlated in seeds, but the mechanisms controlling interactions between these two pathways are unknown. Here, we identify the molecular mechanism controlling oil and protein content in seeds. We utilized transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants overexpressing WRINKLED1 (WRI1), a master transcription factor regulating seed oil biosynthesis, and knockout mutants of major seed storage proteins. Oil and protein biosynthesis in wild-type plants was sequentially activated during early and late seed development, respectively. The negative correlation between oil and protein contents in seeds arises from competition between the pathways. Extension of WRI1 expression during mid-phase of seed development significantly enhanced seed oil content. This study demonstrates that temporal activation of genes involved in oil or storage protein biosynthesis determines the oil/protein ratio in Arabidopsis seeds. These results provide novel insights into potential breeding strategies to generate crops with high oil contents in seeds.


WRI1; amino acids; fatty acids; seed storage proteins; soluble carbohydrates; triacylglycerol

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