Biochemical pathways in seed oil synthesis

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2013 Jun;16(3):358-64. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.02.015. Epub 2013 Mar 23.


Oil produced in plant seeds is utilized as a major source of calories for human nutrition, as feedstocks for non-food uses such as soaps and polymers, and can serve as a high-energy biofuel. The biochemical pathways leading to oil (triacylglycerol) synthesis in seeds involve multiple subcellular organelles, requiring extensive lipid trafficking. Phosphatidylcholine plays a central role in these pathways as a substrate for acyl modifications and likely as a carrier for the trafficking of acyl groups between organelles and membrane subdomains. Although much has been clarified regarding the enzymes and pathways responsible for acyl-group flux, there are still major gaps in our understanding. These include the identity of several key enzymes, how flux between alternative pathways is controlled and the specialized cell biology leading to biogenesis of oil bodies that store up to 80% of carbon in seeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Plant
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism
  • Plant Oils / metabolism*
  • Plastids / metabolism
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Plant Oils
  • Triglycerides