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A transgene design for enhancing oil content in Arabidopsis and Camelina seeds.



Increasing the oil yield is a major objective for oilseed crop improvement. Oil biosynthesis and accumulation are influenced by multiple genes involved in embryo and seed development. The leafy cotyledon1 (LEC1) is a master regulator of embryo development that also enhances the expression of genes involved in fatty acid biosynthesis. We speculated that seed oil could be increased by targeted overexpression of a master regulating transcription factor for oil biosynthesis, using a downstream promoter for a gene in the oil biosynthesis pathway. To verify the effect of such a combination on seed oil content, we made constructs with maize (Zea mays) ZmLEC1 driven by serine carboxypeptidase-like (SCPL17) and acyl carrier protein (ACP5) promoters, respectively, for expression in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana and Camelina sativa.


Agrobacterium-mediated transformation successfully generated Arabidopsis and Camelina lines that overexpressed ZmLEC1 under the control of a seed-specific promoter. This overexpression does not appear to be detrimental to seed vigor under laboratory conditions and did not cause observable abnormal growth phenotypes throughout the life cycle of the plants. Overexpression of ZmLEC1 increased the oil content in mature seeds by more than 20% in Arabidopsis and 26% in Camelina.


The findings suggested that the maize master regulator, ZmLEC1, driven by a downstream seed-specific promoter, can be used to increase oil production in Arabidopsis and Camelina and might be a promising target for increasing oil yield in oilseed crops.0.

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