U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Field Production of Novel Plant Oils in Camelina
Published: December 19, 2014
Posted: April 20, 2015

Some plants synthesize acetyl-triacylglycerols (acetyl-TAGs), some of which are suitable as ‘drop-in’ biodiesel. A diacylglycerol acetyltransferase from Euonymus alatus, EaDAcT, synthesizes such acetyl-TAGs when expressed in Arabidopsis, Camelina, and soybean. Compared to most vegetable oils, acetyl-TAGs have reduced viscosity and improved cold temperature properties that confer advantages in applications as biodegradable lubricants, food emulsifiers, plasticizers, and ‘drop-in’ fuels for some diesel engines. Previously, researchers in the Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) engineered a Camelina line producing high levels of oleic to express the EaDAcT gene to produce acetyl-TAG oils with fatty acid compositions and physiochemical properties complementary to wild-type acetyl-TAG. In field-grown engineered Camelina, the acetyl-TAGs accumulated to 70 mol% of seed TAG and had minor or no effect on seed weight, oil content, harvest index, and seed yield. The total moles of TAG increased up to 27%, reflecting the ability to synthesize more acetyl-TAG from the same supply of long-chain fatty acid. The crystallization temperature of high-oleic acetyl-TAG was reduced by 30? C compared to control TAG. The viscosity of high-oleic acetyl-TAG was 27% lower than TAG from the high-oleic control, and the caloric content was reduced by 5%. Field production of T4 and T5 transgenic plants yielded over 250 kg seeds for oil extraction and analysis. These results demonstrate that high-oleic Camelina lines can be engineered to produce desirable oils for ‘drop-in’ biodiesel and that establishing crop production of Camelina acetyl-TAG will enable sufficient quantities of acetyl-TAG to be produced for further agronomic and commercial development.

Reference: Liu, J., H. Tjellstrom, K. McGlew, V. Shaw, A. Rice, J. Simpson, D. Kosma, W. Ma, W. Yang, M. Strawsine, E. Cahoon, T. P. Durrett, and J. Ohlrogge. 2015 “Field Production, Purification, and Analysis of High-Oleic Acetyl-Triacylglyceros from Transgenic Camelina sativa,” Industrial Crops and Products 65, 259-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2014.11.019. (Reference link)

Contact: Kent Peters, SC-23.2, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)
  • Research Area: Biosystems Design

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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