Transgenic Research

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1233–1243 | Cite as

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

  • Noemi Ruiz-López
  • Richard P. Haslam
  • Mónica Venegas-Calerón
  • Tianbi Li
  • Joerg Bauer
  • Johnathan A. NapierEmail author
  • Olga Sayanova
Original Paper


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.


Arabidopsis Desaturase Elongase Omega-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids Transgenic plants 



Rothamsted Research receives grant-aided support from BBSRC (UK). The support of BASF Plant Sciences is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11248_2012_9596_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 40 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noemi Ruiz-López
    • 1
  • Richard P. Haslam
    • 1
  • Mónica Venegas-Calerón
    • 1
    • 3
  • Tianbi Li
    • 1
  • Joerg Bauer
    • 2
    • 4
  • Johnathan A. Napier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olga Sayanova
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ChemistryRothamsted ResearchHarpenden, HertsUK
  2. 2.BASF Plant SciencesLimburgerhofGermany
  3. 3.Instituto de la GrasaCSICSevilleSpain
  4. 4.Metanomics GmbHBerlinGermany

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