According to a study published in Nature Biotechnology, researchers at Dow AgroSciences have engineered a vegetable oil that contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids.
The group used genes from macroalgae to enhance the fatty acid profile of canola oil, and tested production on a commercial scale. The article is titled “Canola engineered with a microalgal polyketide synthase-like system produces oil enriched in docosahexaenoic acid” and is available on the Journal’s website.
Dietary omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5) are usually derived from marine fish. Although production of both EPA and DHA has been engineered into land plants, includingArabidopsis, Camelina sativa and Brassica juncea, neither has been produced in commercially relevant amounts in a widely grown crop. We report expression of a microalgal polyketide synthase-like PUFA synthase system, comprising three multidomain polypeptides and an accessory enzyme, in canola (Brassica napus) seeds. This transgenic enzyme system is expressed in the cytoplasm, and synthesizes DHA and EPA de novo from malonyl-CoA without substantially altering plastidial fatty acid production. Furthermore, there is no significant impact of DHA and EPA production on seed yield in either the greenhouse or the field. Canola oil processed from field-grown grain contains 3.7% DHA and 0.7% EPA, and can provide more than 600 mg of omega-3 LC-PUFAs in a 14 g serving.