Genetic Engineering of Oils In Vegetable (Non-Seed) Tissues By Diverting Carbon From Starch





Triacylglycerol (TAG) is an ester that is derived from three fatty acids and glycerol. Triglycerides are the main constituents vegetable oil. Generally, in an oil crop species, TAG is produced in seeds, and this TAG can be harvested for various uses. TAG from plant oils are used as feedstocks for biofuels, food and industrial chemicals.


Crops may also be engineered to  produce oils in non-seed tissues. The embryos (seeds) in plants have an active pathway of storage oil biosynthesis. WRINKLED1 is a transcription factor of Arabidopsis that regulates the conversion of sugar into fatty acid biosynthesis within these seeds. This pathway can be activated in non-seed tissues to increase oil production.




This technology optimizes the use of synthetic biology to produce oil in non-seed tissues, such as leaves and shoots in transgenic plants in order to increase the conversion of sugars into oil. Through the use of an RNAi to knock down AGPase and thereby block starch biosynthesis together with expression of the WRI1 transcription factor under the control of a sugar sensitive promoter (PATATIN B33) the inventors were able to activate TAG biosynthesis in vegetative tissues. Total fatty acid levels in vegetative tissues are increased 2-3-fold by shifting carbon partitioning from starch to precursors of fatty acid biosynthesis.



  • Enhance TAG accumulation in non-seed vegetable tissues
  • Reduce greenhouse gases from fossil fuels



  • High energy density biomass with oil
    • Can be used for co-firing in conventional power plants
    • Improve biomass feed stocks
    • Energy rich forage crops




US patents issued, 9,657,304 and 10,280,432





Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University