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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Crop Improvement and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #209324

Title: Castor oil: Biosynthesis and Uses

item McKeon, Thomas
item He, Xiaohua
item Chen, Grace
item Lin, Jiann

Submitted to: 226th American Chemical Society National Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/5/2006
Publication Date: 3/25/2007
Citation: Mckeon, T.A., He, X., Chen, G.Q., Lin, J.T. 2007. Castor oil: Biosynthesis and Uses. 226th American Chemical Society National Meeting.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Castor oil is unique among commodity oils in its fatty acid composition, which consists of 90% ricinoleate, (12-hydroxy-octadec-cis 9-enoate). The mid-chain hydroxyl group imparts physical and chemical properties that make it useful in many industrial applications. Among its uses are lithium grease, surfactants, cosmetics, polymers and engineering plastics. Biochemically, the castor seed is very efficient in converting oleate to ricinoleate (>90% efficiency). This efficiency results from the high rate of ricinoleate incorporation into the triacylglycerol fraction, with concomitant exclusion of oleate. We have identified two enzymes which carry out the final step of castor oil biosynthesis, cloned cDNAs for these and demonstrated that the substrate preferences of these two enzymes explains the efficient incorporation of ricinoleate into triacylglycerol. We believe that inclusion of these enzymes in a transgenic or microbial system could enhance the production of a castor oil substitute.