Background: Triacylglycerols (TAGs) are the most abundant form of storage oil in plants. They consist of three fatty acid chains (usually C16 or C18) covalently linked to glycerol. SDP1 is a specific lipase for the first step of TAG catabolism in Arabidopsis seeds. Arabidopsis mutants deficient in SDP1 accumulate high levels of oils, probably due to blockage in TAG degradation. We applied this knowledge from the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, to engineer increased seed oil content in the biodiesel plant Jatropha curcas using RNA interference (RNAi) technology. Results: As Jatropha is a biodiesel crop, any significant increase in its seed oil content would be an important agronomic trait. Using A. thaliana as a model plant, we found that a deficiency of SDP1 led to higher TAG accumulation and a larger number of oil bodies in seeds compared with wild type (Columbia-0; Col-0). We cloned Jatropha JcSDP1, and verified its function by complementation of the Arabidopsis sdp1-5 mutant. Taking advantage of the observation with Arabidopsis, we used RNAi technology to generate JcSDP1 deficiency in transgenic Jatropha. We found that Jatropha JcSDP1-RNAi plants accumulated 13 to 30% higher total seed storage lipid, along with a 7% compensatory decrease in protein content, compared with control (CK; 35S:GFP) plants. Free fatty acid (FFA) content in seeds was reduced from 27% in control plants to 8.5% in JcSDP1-RNAi plants. Conclusion: Here, we showed that SDP1 deficiency enhances seed oil accumulation in Arabidopsis. Based on this result, we generated SDP1-deficient transgenic Jatropha plants using by RNAi technology with a native JcSDP1 promoter to silence endogenous JcSDP1 expression. Seeds of Jatropha JcSDP1-RNAi plants accumulated up to 30% higher total lipid and had reduced FFA content compared with control (CK; 35S:GFP) plants. Our strategy of improving an important agronomic trait of Jatropha can be extended to other oil crops to yield higher seed oil.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Singapore Millenium Foundation and the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore. We thank Dr Jian Ye and Jing Qu for helpful discussion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law