Projects and Current Research Focus
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
- 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
- Investigation of the control of fatty acid oxidation product, or
"oxylipin", formation in plant tissues. Photos: Artemisia, Artemisia
tridentata, and Citrullus
- Manipulation of jasmonic acid, methyl jasmonate and jasmone
biosynthesis in floral tissues of jasmine. Photos: Jasminum officinale (grandiflorum) and
- 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.
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
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
related web links
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