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Plant Physiol. 1996 Jan;110(1):311-9.

Developmental and growth temperature regulation of two different microsomal omega-6 desaturase genes in soybeans.

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Agricultural Products Department, E. I. duPont de Nemour & Co., Wilmington, Delaware 19880-0402, USA.


The polyunsaturated fatty acid content is one of the major factors influencing the quality of vegetable oils. Edible oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acid provide improved oil stability, flavor, and nutrition for human and animal consumption. In plants, the microsomal omega-6 desaturase-catalyzed pathway is the primary route of production of polyunsaturated lipids. We report the isolation of two different cDNA sequences, FAD2-1 and FAD2-2, encoding microsomal omega-6 desaturase in soybeans and the characterization of their developmental and temperature regulation. The FAD2-1 gene is strongly expressed in developing seeds, whereas the FAD2-2 gene is constitutively expressed in both vegetative tissues and developing seeds. Thus, the FAD2-2 gene-encoded omega-6 desaturase appears to be responsible for production of polyunsaturated fatty acids within membrane lipids in both vegetative tissues and developing seeds. The seed-specifically expressed FAD2-1 gene is likely to play a major role in controlling conversion of oleic acid to linoleic acid within storage lipids during seed development. In both soybean seed and leaf tissues, linoleic acid and linolenic acid levels gradually increase as temperature decreases. However, the levels of transcripts for FAD2-1, FAD2-2, and the plastidial omega-6 desaturase gene (FAD 6) do not increase at low temperature. These results suggest that the elevated polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in developing soybean seeds grown at low temperature are not due to the enhanced expression of omega-6 desaturase genes.

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