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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337661

Research Project: Molecular Genetic Analysis of Abiotic Stress Tolerance and Oil Production Pathways in Cotton, Bioenergy and Other Industrial Crops

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Title: Turning over a new leaf in lipid droplet biology

item PYC, MICHAL - University Of Guelph
item CAI, YINGQI - University Of North Texas
item GREER, MICHAEL - University Of North Texas
item Yurchenko, Olga
item CHAPMAN, KENT - University Of North Texas
item Dyer, John
item MULLEN, ROBERT - University Of Guelph

Submitted to: Trends in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2017
Publication Date: 4/25/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Pyc, M., Cai, Y., Greer, M.S., Yurchenko, O., Chapman, K.D., Dyer, J.M., Mullen, R.T. 2017. Turning over a new leaf in lipid droplet biology. Trends in Plant Science. 22:596-609.

Interpretive Summary: Plants store oil within subcellular compartments called “lipid droplets”. In oil-rich tissues such as seeds, this oil serves as an important carbon and energy reserve that supports post-germinative seedling growth. Recent research, however, has revealed that lipid droplets are not simply static depots of stored energy, but rather dynamic organelles involved in a variety of other physiological processes including plant growth, development and stress responses. This review paper highlights recent findings that identify new proteins involved in lipid droplet formation and function. In some cases, these proteins are broadly conserved amongst plants and animals, revealing deep conservation in the underlying cellular mechanisms, but in other cases, there are unique proteins that function in plants. New avenues of research are defined that will shed significant light on the role of these organelles in plant biology, and also provide new concepts for engineering an increase in oil content and increase in crop tolerance to stress. This article should be of greatest interest to other scientists studying the fundamental mechanisms that regulate oil content and stress responses in plant cells.

Technical Abstract: Lipid droplets (LDs) in plants have long been viewed as storage depots for neutral lipids that serve as energy sources or precursors for membrane biosynthesis. While much of our knowledge of LD function in plants comes from studies of oilseeds, a recent surge in research of LDs in non-seed tissues has led to an array of new discoveries. It is now clear that both evolutionarily-conserved and kingdom-specific mechanisms underlie the biogenesis of this neutral lipid compartment in eukaryotes, and proteomics and homology-based approaches have been instrumental in identifying new protein players. This review highlights some of these recent discoveries and other new areas of plant LD research, including their role in stress responses and as targets of metabolic engineering strategies aimed at increasing oil content in bioenergy crops.