, 42:179 | Cite as

Engineering Oilseed Plants for a Sustainable, Land-Based Source of Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Invited Thematic Review


Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular and mental health benefits of including very long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely eicospentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosohexaenoic acid (DHA) in the human diet. Certain fish oils can be a rich source of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids although processed marine oils are generally undesirable as food ingredients because of the associated objectionable flavors and contaminants that are difficult and cost-prohibitive to remove. Oilseed plants rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax and walnut oils, contain only the 18-carbon omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which is poorly converted by the human body to EPA and DHA. It is now possible to engineer common omega-6 rich oilseeds such as soybean and canola to produce EPA and DHA and this has been the focus of a number of academic and industrial research groups. Recent advances and future prospects in the production of EPA and DHA in oilseed crops are discussed here.



Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids


Docosahexaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Arachidonic acid




Linoleic acid


Alpha-linolenic acid


Gamma-linolenic acid


Stearidonic acid


Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid


Eicosatetraenoic acid


Eicosadienoic acid


Eicosatrienoic acid


Docosapentaenoic acid


Coenzyme A




Lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase


Sciadonic acid


Juniperonic acid


Polyketide synthase


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Crop Genetics ResearchDuPont Experimental StationWilmingtonUSA

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