Rice bran oil (RBO) contains valuable, healthy constituents, including oleic acid. Improving the fatty acid composition in RBO as well as increasing the content of oleic acid would increase its health benefits. The enzyme fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) catalyzes the conversion of oleic acid to linoleic acid in plants, and FAD2 mutants exhibit altered oleic and linoleic acid content in many crops.
In order to produce high oleic/low linoleic RBO rice (Oryza sativa), the team of Kiyomi Abe from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Japan aimed to knockout the OsFAD2-1 gene via CRISPR-Cas9 targeted mutagenesis. The team generated OsFAD2-1 knockout rice plant which contained significantly higher oleic acid than wild types. Moreover, these lines also had negligible linoleic acid content.
This study suggests that CRISPR-Cas9-mediated mutagenesis of a major gene in a target tissue could be a powerful tool to improve traits in a tissue-specific manner.