Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

Systems-Level Analysis of Extreme Differences in Fatty Acid Chain-Length Production: Natural Variants and Redesigned Brassicaceae Oilseeds


Maneesh Lingwan1* (, Mary R. Roth2, Eleana Kang3, Rui Guan3, Joseph Ballenger1, Somnath Koley1, Abdul Ghani4, Yen On Chan4, Zhen Lyu4, Sabin Dahal4, Manish Immadi4, Mohit Verma4, Chunhui Xu4, Trey Shaw4, Sai Akhil Choppararu4, Yongfang Qin4, Jose Roberto da Silva Nascimento4, Lucas Xavier4, Ana Caroline Conrado4, Alisha Lnu2, Matt Garneau5, Agasthya Chenna Prakash5, Nina Barroga5, Dong Xu4, Timothy Durrett2, Phil D. Bates5, Malia Gehan1, Trupti Joshi4, Jay J. Thelen4, Ruth Welti2, Doug K. Allen1,6, Edgar B. Cahoon3


1Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; 2Kansas State University–Manhattan; 3University of Nebraska–Lincoln; 4University of Missouri–Columbia; 5Washington State University–Pullman; 6U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service



The project addresses three goals: (1) systems-level analysis of camelina, pennycress and Cuphea for increased lipid content and predictable production of fatty acids with tailored chain lengths; (2) integration of a redesigned plastid biofactory with extra plastidial metabolism for enhanced oils within an engineered biocontainment strategy; and (3) controlled environment- and field-tested engineered germplasm.


Bigger, Better, Brassicaceae, Biofuels, and Bioproducts (B5) is providing fundamental knowledge to guide biodesigns of Brassicaceae nonfood oilseeds, camelina, and pennycress for sustainable biofuels and bioproducts. One target is the tailoring of fatty acid biosynthesis and storage to generate camelina and pennycress oils rich in medium-chain fatty acids (C8–C14) as feedstocks for sustainable aviation fuel. Researchers have undertaken a systems biology approach to understand the metabolic specialization that enables plants such as Cuphea species to accumulate oils highly enriched with medium-chain fatty acids versus typical oilseeds such as camelina and pennycress that accumulate C16- and C18-rich oils. Researchers are also conducting a systems-level analysis of existing camelina and pennycress lines engineered for C10 oil production to identify metabolic constraints that limit biosynthesis of these redesigned oils.

Lines engineered with genes for further work through a design-build-test-learn strategy. Early transcriptomics results have been incorporated into 3D omics and CCMT tools for comparative and cross- species analytics. Results to date from measurements of biomass, metabolic intermediates, omics studies, and isotope tracer investigations were presented.


Graphical depiction of what is described in the caption.

Figure 1. A model showing the central metabolic role of fatty acids in the cell, robust and integrated design-build-test-learn (DBTL) cycles will be key to discovering how plants fight back against lipid metabolic remodeling.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science, BER program, grant no. DE-SC0023142.