Update on GM canola crops as novel sources of omega‐3 fish oils
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPlant Biotechnology Journal. 2018, 1-3. 10.1111/pbi.13045
There is considerable interest in new sources of omega‐3 long‐chain (here defined as fatty acids ≥C20) polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC‐PUFA), specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n‐3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n‐3), commonly known as omega‐3 fish oils, to supplement the limited supplies of oceanic fish oil (Tocher, 2015). These alternative sources include extraction of other diverse marine organisms (e.g. krill, plankton etc.), algal fermentation and the genetic engineering of microbes such as yeasts. Another approach is the synthesis of omega‐3 fish oils in transgenic plants (reviewed in Napier et al., 2015), and this short article will discuss the recent results obtained by two major industry collaborations. The objective of engineering plants to accumulate EPA and DHA has long been recognized as worthy (summarized in Domergue et al., 2005). Genes for this biosynthetic pathway (Figure 1) were characterized by the early 2000s, but efficient transgenic reconstitution proved more challenging. Varying levels of EPA and DHA have been reported in both Arabidopsis and Camelina by different groups (comprehensively discussed in Napier et al., 2015). However, significant commercial effort has been also focussed on canola (Brassica napus) as the host for this transgenic pathway, since genetic and agronomic resources are well‐established for this crop, with also significant grower acceptance of GM canola in N. America.