Perilla, also termed as purple mint, Chinese basil, or Perilla mint, is a flavoring herb widely used in East Asia. Both crude oil and essential oil are employed for consumption as well as industrial purposes. Fatty acids (FAs) biosynthesis and oil body assemblies in Perilla have been extensively investigated over the last three decades. Recent advances have been made in order to reveal the enzymes involved in the fatty acid biosynthesis in Perilla. Among those fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid retained the attention of scientists mainly due to its medicinal and nutraceutical properties. Lipids synthesis in Perilla exhibited similarities with Arabidopsis thaliana lipids' pathway. The homologous coding genes for polyunsaturated fatty acid desaturases, transcription factors, and major acyl-related enzymes have been found in Perilla via de novo transcriptome profiling, genome-wide association study, and in silico whole-genome screening. The identified genes covered de novo fatty acid synthesis, acyl-CoA dependent Kennedy pathway, acyl-CoA independent pathway, Triacylglycerols (TAGs) assembly, and acyl editing of phosphatidylcholine. In addition to the enzymes, transcription factors including WRINKLED, FUSCA3, LEAFY COTYLEDON1, and ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE3 have been suggested. Meanwhile, the epigenome aspect impacting the transcriptional regulation of FAs is still unclear and might require more attention from the scientific community. This review mainly outlines the identification of the key gene master players involved in Perilla FAs biosynthesis and TAGs assembly that have been identified in recent years. With the recent advances in genomics resources regarding this orphan crop, we provided an updated overview of the recent contributions into the comprehension of the genetic background of fatty acid biosynthesis. The provided resources can be useful for further usage in oil-bioengineering and the design of alpha-linolenic acid-boosted Perilla genotypes in the future.
Keywords: Perilla; fatty acid biosynthesis; fatty acid desaturase; genomics; oil crop; transcription factor; transcriptomics; triacylglycerol biosynthesis.