Welcome to the Plant Biochemical Genetics and Lipid Metabolism Lab
at the University 

of Kentucky

Projects and Current Research Focus


  • Genetic engineering plants, particularly soybeans, for conversion of saturated to mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Genetic engineering plants plants, again particularly soybeans, for increased conversion of saturated, mono-unsaturated and di-unsaturated fatty acids into tri-unsaturated fatty acids (for industrial uses).
  • Genetic engineering plants for very high monounsaturated fatty acids levels.
  • Genetic engineering soybeans for epoxy fatty acid accumulation.  Photos:  Vernonia, Vernonia, Euphorbia, and Stokesia laevis
  • Renewable lubricant production.
  • Changing triglyceride accumulation in oilseeds such as soybeans.
  • Investigation of the control of fatty acid oxidation product, or "oxylipin", formation in plant tissues.  Photos:  Artemisia, Artemisia tridentata, and Citrullus lanatus (watermelon)
  • Manipulation of jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate and jasmone biosynthesis in floral tissues of jasmine.  Photos:  Jasminum officinale  (grandiflorum) and Jasminum tortuosum
  • Enhanced production of leaf aldehyde, leaf alcohol, traumatin, methyl epi-jasmonate and related compounds in plant tissues.
  • Investigation of the role of oxylipins, including jasmonic acid, in pest, especially insect, resistance.
  • Plant genetic engineering for improved flavor and aroma of food derivatives and enhanced pest defense.
  • Soy lipid genes.
  • New oil crops, chia (Salvia hispanica), industrial hemp.
Current Research Focus:

Our research program focuses on the general area of plant biochemistry and genetics and the application of biotechnology to crop improvement with particular emphasis on food, lipid and oil quality and new uses of agricultural commodities.  This research involves the identification, isolation, cloning and manipulation by plant genetic engineering of agriculturally important genes.  The major research thrust is the understanding and manipulation of fatty acid metabolism and triglyceride synthesis.

We are enhancing triglycerides of oilseeds with emphasis on soybeans for improved edible and industrial quality.  For improved edible quality we are changing the ratios of the mix of vegetable oil fatty acids reducing both the saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid percentages with a corresponding increase in monounsaturated fatty acids.  This will result in a more healthy and stable product.  For industrial uses we are tailoring the triglycerides towards high triunsaturated fatty acid level which would make vegetable oils much more valuable in several industrial products such as "drying oils".

We are also are working toward developing oilseed oils high in epoxy fatty acids which will greatly increase their value for a number of industrial products.  Epoxy fatty acids are examples of "oxylipins", or oxygenated products of fatty acids.  Another major thrust of this research program is the detailed understanding of oxylipin formation in plant tissues.  Most plant tissues form a range of oxylipins.  Some oxylipins are very important in the flavor and aroma and therefore general quality of plant derived foods.  Some are also important in plant pest defense and defense signaling systems.

facilities and equipment
Plant Biochemistry 609
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This page last modified Sept. , 2016.