Transgenic oilseed crops as an alternative to fish oils

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2011 Nov;85(5):253-60. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 18.


Growing evidence suggests that omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs), especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5Δ5,8,11,14,17) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6Δ4,7,10,13,16,19) play critical roles in human health and development. VLC-PUFAs are mainly found in fish, some fungi, marine bacteria and microalgae. Currently, the predominant dietary sources of VLC-PUFAs are marine fish and seafood. However, the increasing demand for fish and fish oils is putting enormous pressure on marine ecosystems leading to a depletion of fish stocks while commercial cultivation of marine microorganisms and aquaculture are not sustainable and cannot compensate for the shortage in fish supply. Therefore, there is an obvious requirement for an alternative and sustainable source for VLC-PUFAs. Over the last decade, many genes encoding the primary VLC-PUFAs biosynthetic activities became available providing a toolkit for the "reverse-engineering" of transgenic plants to produce fish oils. In this review, we will describe the recent advances in this field and the insights they give us into the complexities of metabolic engineering of oil-seed crops producing VLC-PUFAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural / enzymology*
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / biosynthesis*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / genetics
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / genetics
  • Humans
  • Plant Oils / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / enzymology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics


  • Plant Oils
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid