U.S. Department of Agriculture, USA
Dr. Grace Chen obtained her Ph.D from University of Wisconsin at Madison, and did her postdoctoral studies from University of California ̶ Plant Gene Expression Center. She has published more than 44 papers in reputed journals is globally recognized as an expert on oilseed biotechnology
Hydroxy fatty acids (HFA) from plant seed triacylglycerols (TAGs, oil molecule) are wildly used in manufacturing industrial products, such as lubricants, plasticizers and surfactants. Castor oil has 90% HFA which occupies all three sn positions of most TAGs, while lesquerella oil contains 60% HFA mostly located at sn-1 and sn-3 of TAGs. In order to improve HFA levels in lesquerella seeds, a castor lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase 2 gene (RcLPAT2) capable of acylating HFA to the sn-2 position of TAGs was introduced into lesquerella under the control of the seed specific napin promoter from Brassica napus. Analysis of transgenic lesquerella seed TAGs showed that RcLPAT2 was able to incorporate HFA to the sn-2 position of TAG and consequently, oil accumulated more of TAGs with all three sn positions occupied by HFA. The results enhanced our understanding of plant lipid metabolism and provided invaluable guidance for future research not only for enhancing HFA content in lesquerella, but also for HFA production in other oilseed crops.