The fastest Omega-3 in science
CSIRO Plant Industry researchers through the Food Futures National Research Flagship have developed a faster, cheaper way to assemble complex gene groups to make better food crops.
4 March 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011
Dr Surinder Singh’s oilseed research group at Plant Industry devised the methods and have already applied them to speed up the evaluation of complex gene groups (pathways) involved in the synthesis of omega-3oils for the CSIRO Food Futures National Research Flagship.
For example, they have been able to rapidly insert up to eight interacting genes into a model plant’s leaf to make the omega-3 oil DHA.
Excitingly, the team has also devised a method of quickly testing genes in plant leaves which could previously only be tested in laborious trials in seed.
Old methods of testing pathways involved 'pasting' the genes together before inserting them in the plant, making the whole process very laborious, expensive and often a year long.
With the new way, researchers can insert all of the genes at once, but as individual genes, not as a 'pasted' group. Remarkably, the plant is able to make the genes work together.
This can be done in only five days and it allows more flexibility as each gene in the group can be individually tweaked to optimise performance in the plant.
This new approach has enabled the CSIRO research team to accelerate the development of long-chain omega-3 oils like DHA in canola.
Likewise, Dr Craig Wood, who was instrumental in conceiving the idea, is now aiming to use it to aid the production of industrial oils for CSIRO Crop Biofactories Initiative projects.
Read other articles from the CSIRO Plant Industry newsletter.