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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Development and Potential of Genetically Engineered Oilseed Crops

Authors
item Dyer, John
item Mullen, Robert - DEPT. BOTANY,CANADA

Submitted to: Review Article
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: August 10, 2005
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
Citation: Dyer, J.M., Mullen, R. 2005. Development and potential of genetically engineered oilseed crops. Seed Science Research. 15:255-267.

Interpretive Summary: Problem Statement: Vegetable oils are valuable renewable resources that are used primarily in food and cooking applications. The nutritional and physical qualities of oils are determined primarily by the fatty acid composition of the oil, and in recent years there has been substantial interest in modifying fatty acid composition to produce oils with improved nutritional properties or oils that can be used in industry. Such oils may eventually replace a variety of industrial products that are traditionally produced from fossil fuels. In this book chapter, we provide a thorough review of the literature associated with genetic modification of oilseed crops. We describe the historical factors that led to the current generation of genetically modified oilseeds, then move on to discuss how oilseeds are currently being engineered to provide vegetable oils with improved health benefits, better performance in cooking applications, and oils that may be used in a variety of different industries. The information provided in our book chapter provides a clear and concise description of the current state of the art in oilseed research. This chapter will be useful to other scientists who are interested in oilseed seed research, especially those who are interested in understanding how biotechnology is currently impacting vegetable oil production.

Technical Abstract: Oilseed crops are major agricultural commodities, with 320 million metric tons produced worldwide in 2002 at a value of over 60 billion US dollars. All of the major oilseed crops have been modified by genetic engineering and the majority of the world's largest oilseed producers have openly embraced this revolutionary biotechnology. While the vast majority of genetically modified (GM) oilseed crops produced to date contain herbicide tolerance or insect resistance input traits, the greatest potential of oilseed crops probably lies in the genetic manipulation of fatty acid content to improve either the nutritional, physical, chemical, or industrial properties of oils. For instance, while approximately 85% of vegetable oils are currently used in food and cooking applications, identification of genes involved in the synthesis of industrially-important fatty acids opens the door to production of so-called "oleochemicals" in oilseed crops. These types of plant oils represent a diverse array of renewable resources that could potentially supplant traditional petrochemicals derived from crude oil. In this chapter, we begin by reviewing the historical perspectives that led to the current generation of transgenic oilseed crops. We then highlight the biochemical processes involved in oilseed fatty acid biosynthesis and discuss in detail how manipulations of these metabolic processes via genetic engineering have begun to improve the nutritional and industrial potential of oilseed crops.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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