Unusual oils like hydroxy fatty acids (HFAs) are valuable in the chemical
industry. They are largely produced in seeds of castor bean and lesquerella.
However, the mass production of these plants is hindered by challenges such
as difficulty in weed control and hazardous compounds also produced in these
plants. Thus, researchers Niranjan Aryal and Chaofu Lu of Montana State
University in the US engineered a gene from castor bean to oilseed Camelina
to produce large amounts of HFAs.
The researchers expressed the gene RcPLCL1 from castor bean in Camelina via
Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. To determine the oil content of the
transgenic plants, the researchers extracted oil from the Camelina seeds
using a modified Blight and Dyer method. Results showed increased HFA
production and improved germination rate of Camelina seeds.