Dedicated Industrial Oilseed Crops as Metabolic Engineering Platforms for Sustainable Industrial Feedstock Production

Li Hua Zhu*, Frans Krens, Mark A. Smith, Xueyuan Li, Weicong Qi, Eibertus N. Van Loo, Tim Iven, Ivo Feussner, Tara J. Nazarenus, Dongxin Huai, David C. Taylor, Xue Rong Zhou, Allan G. Green, Jay Shockey, Thomas K. Klasson, Robert T. Mullen, Bangquan Huang, John M. Dyer, Edgar B. Cahoon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Feedstocks for industrial applications ranging from polymers to lubricants are largely derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Vegetable oils with fatty acid structures and storage forms tailored for specific industrial uses offer renewable and potentially sustainable sources of petrochemical-type functionalities. A wide array of industrial vegetable oils can be generated through biotechnology, but will likely require non-commodity oilseed platforms dedicated to specialty oil production for commercial acceptance. Here we show the feasibility of three Brassicaceae oilseeds crambe, camelina, and carinata, none of which are widely cultivated for food use, as hosts for complex metabolic engineering of wax esters for lubricant applications. Lines producing wax esters >20% of total seed oil were generated for each crop and further improved for high temperature oxidative stability by down-regulation of fatty acid polyunsaturation. Field cultivation of optimized wax ester-producing crambe demonstrated commercial utility of these engineered crops and a path for sustainable production of other industrial oils in dedicated specialty oilseeds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22181
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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