Vernonia DGATs increase accumulation of epoxy fatty acids in oil

Runzhi Li, Keshun Yu, Tomoko Hatanaka, David F. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Summary Vernolic acid (cis-12-epoxy-octadeca-cis-9-enoic acid) is valuable as a renewable chemical feedstock. This fatty acid can accumulate to high levels in the seed oil of some plant species such as Vernonia galamensis and Stokesia laevis which are unsuitable for large-scale production. A cost-effective alternative for production of epoxy fatty acids is to genetically engineer its biosynthesis in commercial oilseeds. An epoxygenase cDNA (SlEPX) responsible for vernolic acid synthesis and two acyl-CoA : diacylglycerol acyltransferase cDNAs (VgDGAT1 and VgDGAT2) catalysing triacylglycerol (TAG) formation were cloned from developing seeds of S. laevis and V. galamensis. Co-expression of SlEPX and VgDGAT1 or VgDGAT2 greatly increases accumulation of vernolic acid both in petunia leaves and soybean somatic embryos. Seed-specific expression of VgDGAT1 and VgDGAT2 in SlEPX mature soybean seeds results in vernolic acid levels of ∼15% and 26%. Both DGAT1 and DGAT2 increase epoxy fatty acid accumulation with DGAT2 having much greater impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-195
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Epoxy soybean oil
  • Stokesia epoxygenase
  • Triacylglycerol"
  • Vernolic acid
  • Vernonia diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT1 and DGAT2)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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