Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) deficiency and a skewed n6:n3 fatty acid ratio in
the diet are some of the major reasons why there is prevalence of
cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory/autoimmune diseases. With more
evidence of the healthful benefits of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated
fatty acids (LC PUFA's), there's an increasing demand for fish oil and meal.
However, due to several reasons, the fish supplies do not match the
increasing need for healthy oils. Thus, one alternative being explored by
experts is the metabolic engineering of transgenic plants with the capacity
to produce n3 LC-PUFAs.
Scientists from Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation investigated
the capability of transgenic safflower to produce pharmaceutically important
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3, n3). Safflower accumulates ~78% of the
total fatty acids as linoleic acid, which is the immediate precursor of ALA.
ALA production was confirmed to be produced in the safflower seeds after
transforming hypocotyls with Arabidopsis specific delta 15 desaturase (FAD3)
driven by truncated seed specific promoter. Biofortified safflower was shown
to be not just a source of potentially valuable nutritional superior novel
oil, but also exhibited reduced ratio of LA to ALA which is optimum for good