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A large and functionally diverse family of Fad2 genes in safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.)

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-13-5

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Abstract:

We report here the characterization and functional expression of an exceptionally large FAD2 gene family from safflower, and the temporal and spatial expression profiles of these genes as revealed through Real-Time quantitative PCR. The diversified functionalities of some of the safflower FAD2 gene family members were demonstrated by ectopic expression in yeast and transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. CtFAD2-1 and CtFAD2-10 were demonstrated to be oleate desaturases specifically expressed in developing seeds and flower head, respectively, while CtFAD2-2 appears to have relatively low oleate desaturation activity throughout the plant. CtFAD2-5 and CtFAD2-8 are specifically expressed in root tissues, while CtFAD2-3, 4, 6, 7 are mostly expressed in the cotyledons and hypocotyls in young safflower seedlings. CtFAD2-9 was found to encode a novel desaturase operating on C16:1 substrate. CtFAD2-11 is a tri-functional enzyme able to introduce a carbon double bond in either cis or trans configuration, or a carbon triple (acetylenic) bond at the Δ12 position.In this study, we isolated an unusually large FAD2 gene family with 11 members from safflower. The seed expressed FAD2 oleate Δ12 desaturase genes identified in this study will provide candidate targets to manipulate the oleic acid level in safflower seed oil. Further, the divergent FAD2 enzymes with novel functionality could be used to produce rare fatty acids, such as crepenynic acid, in genetically engineered crop plants that are precursors for economically important phytoalexins and oleochemical products.Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is an ancient oilseed crop that is currently grown for its high quality edible oil used in cooking, salad dressings and margarines, and to a lesser degree as a bird seed. The characteristics of oils are highly dependent on their fatty acid composition. Oleic acid (C18:1Δ9) and linoleic acid (C18:2Δ9,12) are the two major fatty acids found in safflower seed oil, toge

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