Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Commodity Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #181763


item Dyer, John

Submitted to: Seed Science Research
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2005
Publication Date: 12/1/2005
Citation: Dyer, J.M., Mullen, R.T. 2005. DEVELOPMENT AND POTENTIAL OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED OILSEEDS. Seed Science Research. 15(4):255-267.

Interpretive Summary: 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 invited review paper, we provide a thorough review of the literature associated with genetic modification of oilseed crops, with the end goal of producing “designer” oils in oilseed crops that are tailored for specific nutritional or industrial purposes. This information will be especially useful to scientists and policy makers that are interested in the current state of the art in regards to production of novel oils in crop plants.

Technical Abstract: Oilseed crops are major sources of oils for human nutrition, and an increasing proportion is being utilized also for industrial purposes. Recent advances in our understanding of the basic biochemistry of seed oil biosynthesis, coupled with identification of genes for oilseed modification, have set the stage for the genetic engineering of oilseed crops that produce “designer” plant seed oils tailored for specific applications. In this review we provide an overview of seed oil biosynthesis and highlight the enzymatic steps that have been already targeted for genetic manipulation, with the end goal of producing seed oils containing desired amounts of fatty acid components. Furthermore, we describe the identification of genes from various wild plant species that are capable of producing structurally diverse fatty acids and how these advances open the door to the production of entirely novel oils in conventional oilseed crops. Transgenic oilseeds producing high amounts of these novel fatty acids represent renewable sources of raw materials that may compete with and eventually replace some petrochemicals that are derived from nonrenewable petroleum.