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Findings from the Lipgene Project:
Plant Biotechnology

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids from marine oils (namely EPA and DHA) improve many risk factors for heart disease including blood lipid profiles, blood clotting and cardiac electrical dysfunction. However, current intakes are low and meeting the population needs for increased intake of marine-derived long chain omega-3 fatty acids is simply not compatible with ensuring sustainability of fish supplies. Moreover, oily fish, at the top of the marine feed chain accumulate many contaminants in the marine environment. Lipgene seeks to take the genes that regulate the production of EPA and DHA in the algae, at the bottom of the marine food chain and to locate them into plant seeds in order to develop plant-based sources of EPA and DHA.

Over the past year, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis during the seed development process has been investigated in greater detail in rapeseed. Scientists have identified the ‘bottlenecks’ in the metabolic pathways and genetic approaches are being used to overcome these to improve the ultimate yield of DHA and EPA in the seed.

Substantial progress has been made and scientists are now able to detect up to 11.5% of DHA, EPA and DPA in a single seed. Work continues to try to improve the yield of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in the crop.

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Dropper, Agar plate
Findings from the Lipgene Project