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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Engineering Vegetative Biomass for Accumulation of Oil

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2020-21000-012-04
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 01, 2014
End Date: Jul 31, 2015

Objective:
The objective of the research is to develop and test molecular tools capable of modifying the lipid droplet compartment in plant cells, with the end-goal of increasing the amount of oil produced in plants.

Approach:
There are two main approaches that will be pursued to achieve the objective. In the first, proteins associated with the lipid droplet surface in plant cells will be identified. The function of these proteins will be studied using a variety of methods including gene knockouts or knockdowns, over-expression in transgenic plants, and identification of protein binding partners. Experiments will be conducted using both plant and yeast model systems. Analytical tools include protein expression analysis, measurement of enzyme activity and/or functionality, and effects on lipid content and composition. In a second line of investigation, proteins known to be involved in lipid droplet regulation in mammalian cells, with no obvious homologs in plants, will be ectopically expressed in plants to evaluate effects on lipid content and composition. The rationale for this approach is to leverage the huge amount of information regarding obesity in mammals to probe the similarities and/or differences in lipid regulation in plants. Mammalian proteins will be expressed in transgenic model plants and changes in lipid content and composition, including in both leaves and seeds, will be evaluated. Collectively, these approaches will significantly enhance our understanding of how oils are produced and regulated in plant cells.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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