Results from a recently published study \"Tailoring seed oil composition in the real world: optimising omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulation in transgenic Camelina sativa\" demonstrated that plants have the ability to yield oils rich in omega-3 that can be used in aquatic feeds.
Growing demand for omega-3 LC-PUFAs has placed considerable pressure on the wild “reduction” fisheries. Simultaneously, the global aquaculture industry has continued to expand. Collectively, these factors now challenge the assumption that farmed fish species such as salmon contain significant levels of the health beneficial omega-3 LC-PUFAs such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5Δ) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA; 22:6Δ), and there is emerging evidence that farmed fish now contain significantly less of these fatty acids compared with ten years ago
The research group has previously demonstrated the possibility of using transgenic plants to make a de novo terrestrial source of omega-3 LC-PUFAs such EPA and DHA. They developed a transgenic oilseed platform around the boutique crop Camelina sativa (false flax). Camelina, a member of the Brassicacae, is an established oilseed crop grown in both Europe and North America, for a range of applications including food and feed use.
The group previously transitioned their proof-of-concept work in the model system Arabidopsis into this crop, and demonstrated that it is possible to direct the synthesis of EPA and DHA in Camelina seed oil to the same levels observed in bona fide fish oils. Subsequently, they have also shown the utility of these novel oils as aquafeed ingredient (as a replacement for fish oils).
In this study, the group further tailored the seed oil profile to reduce the omega-6 content, and evaluated the performance of such GM plants under field conditions (i.e. environmental releases), in terms of agronomic performance and also the lipidomic profile of seed oil. They used MALDI- mass spectrometry imaging to identify discrete tissue-types in the seed in which these non-native fatty acids preferentially accumulated.
The data provides new insights into the complexity of plant lipid metabolism and the challenges associated with predictive manipulation of these pathways.