Scientists use bioengineering methods to increase yield of vegetable oils

The team has filed a patent for their method of gene modification

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have successfully bioengineered an important protein in plants to increase the yield of oil from their fruits and seeds, a holy grail for the global agri-food industry.

Demonstrating their patent-pending method, the model plant Arabidopsis accumulated 15 to 18 per cent more oil in its seeds when it was grown with the modified protein under laboratory conditions. The secret to helping plants store more oil in their seeds is one of their proteins called WRINKLED1 (WRI1). For the first time, a high-resolution structure of WRI1 has been imaged and reported by the NTU team.

Vegetable oils are commonly used in food processing, biofuels, soaps and perfumes, and the global market for them is estimated to be worth $241.4 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase to $ 324.1 billion by 2027.

“In a world that has limited arable land for agriculture, advanced technologies to grow more food with higher nutrition value is required if we hope to tackle world hunger. When we can increase the fat content in edible seeds and nuts, a person can eat a lesser amount but still feel full, due to the increase in calories consumed. So instead of growing more crops to feed more people, we should also look at methods where the crops grown have more calories and nutrition, so that the same amount of food can feed more people”, said Michael Fam Chair Professor William Chen, Director of Food Science & Technology Programme at NTU.

Image credit- NTU Singapore

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