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Researchers Discover Plant Mechanism for Oil Biosynthesis

A study led by researchers from Washington State University (WSU) discovered the genetic mechanism of Physaria fendleri, a plant related to canola, to change the fatty acid composition in its seed oil after it is already made. This discovery led to the genetic engineering of Arabidopsis to make the same fatty acid changes.

The value of plant oils is highly dependent on their fatty acid composition. According to Phil Bates, a WSU professor and lead author of the study, approximately 90% of oil holds significant value for industrial uses in crops like castor beans. Their study, published in Nature Communications, shows that the modified Arabidopsis produced significant amounts of oil similar to castor oil, which is not naturally produced by the plant.

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