Original Paper

Transgenic Research

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1233-1243

First online:

Enhancing the accumulation of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana via iterative metabolic engineering and genetic crossing

  • Noemi Ruiz-LópezAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research
  • , Richard P. HaslamAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research
  • , Mónica Venegas-CalerónAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted ResearchInstituto de la Grasa, CSIC
  • , Tianbi LiAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research
  • , Joerg BauerAffiliated withBASF Plant SciencesMetanomics GmbH
  • , Johnathan A. NapierAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research Email author 
  • , Olga SayanovaAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Chemistry, Rothamsted Research

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Abstract

The synthesis and accumulation of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid has previously been demonstrated in the seeds of transgenic plants. However, the obtained levels are relatively low, indicating the need for further studies and the better definition of the interplay between endogenous lipid synthesis and the non-native transgene-encoded activities. In this study we have systematically compared three different transgenic configurations of the biosynthetic pathway for eicosapentaenoic acid, using lipidomic profiling to identify metabolic bottlenecks. We have also used genetic crossing to stack up to ten transgenes in Arabidopsis. These studies indicate several potential approaches to optimize the accumulation of target fatty acids in transgenic plants. Our data show the unexpected channeling of heterologous C20 polyunsaturated fatty acids into minor phospholipid species, and also the apparent negative metabolic regulation of phospholipid-dependent Δ6-desaturases. Collectively, this study confirms the benefits of iterative approaches to metabolic engineering of plant lipid synthesis.

Keywords

Arabidopsis Desaturase Elongase Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids Transgenic plants