Isolation and characterization of the omega-6 fatty acid desaturase (FAD2) gene family in the allohexaploid oil seed crop Crambe abyssinica Hochst

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Crambe (Crambe abyssinica Hochst ex. R. E. Fries) is an ideal crop for industrial oil production because of its high erucic acid content (C22:1, approx. 60 %) in its seed oil. The value of crambe oil can be improved by increasing C22:1 content or reducing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The FAD2 gene plays a critical role in PUFA biosynthesis. To identify targets for breeding, we characterized FAD2 in crambe for copy number and expression profile. Seven copies of FAD2 were detected in allohexaploid crambe. Three genes (CaFAD2-C1, -C2 and -C3) were expressed in multiple tissues, including root, seedling, leaf, flower, bud and developing seeds. In developing seeds, the expression of these genes was upregulated with CaFAD2-C3, being expressed predominantly with a peak at 20 days after pollination. This gene is therefore a promising candidate gene for determining PUFA levels in seed oil. Four other FAD2 genes were considered to be “pseudo-genes” as they harbour internal stop codons and were not expressed. Among the six crambe varieties with consistent variation in oil composition, no nucleotide polymorphisms were found in the CaFAD2-C1, -C2 and -C3 genes. In seeds at 30 days after pollination, statistically significant expression level polymorphisms for only one gene, CaFAD2-C2, was found among the varieties. However, although significantly different, the difference in expression was small and did not explain the variation in oil composition. Given the absence of genetic variation in CaFAD2 genes in crambe breeding lines, breeding for high erucic acid content calls for a molecular breeding approach whereby mutations are chemically induced to increase the genetic variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-531
JournalMolecular Breeding
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • brassica-napus l.
  • high oleic-acid
  • erucic-acid
  • expression
  • genome
  • biosynthesis
  • suppression
  • stability
  • evolution
  • varieties

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