Scientists Have Learned To Determine The Composition Of Sunflower Oil From The DNA Of Sunflower
Molecular biologists have determined which genetic markers can be used to predict the fatty acid composition of sunflower oil. The results of their work are available at the scientific journal BMC Genomics, the press service of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology briefly writes about this.
The chemical composition and nutritional value of fruits, seeds, tubers, and leaves of plants depend not only on the properties of the soil, the level of precipitation, and the number of fertilizers in the soil, but also on the activity of genes, according to the "instructions" of which sugars, proteins, vitamins, and various nutrients are formed.
Scientists are trying to increase the concentration of these substances in the cells of different cultivated plants by directly modifying their DNA or selecting for selection those seedlings in which these genes themselves are very active. In particular, in recent years, biologists have created several varieties of tomatoes, which are distinguished by the increased activity of genes responsible for the production of antioxidants – anthocyanins and lycopene.
Alina Chernova from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and her colleagues, for the first time, used genomic technologies to determine the chemical composition and some other properties of the oil that is made from them by the features in the DNA structure of sunflower seeds. To do this, the scientists analyzed the genomes of 601 sunflower lines, the seeds of which were stored in the collections of the All-Russian Institute of Genetic Resources. Vavilov, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Oilseeds named after Pustovoita and the Agroplasma company.
The scientists studied in detail the small mutations that were found in the DNA of each sunflower variety. The biologists compared the genetic differences between the plant lines with the composition of the oil that was made from these seeds, in particular, what fatty acids were there.
It turned out that the chemical composition of the oil was affected by about three tens of thousands of small mutations. Approximately half of them were associated with the proportions of the two main components of the oil – oleic and linoleic acids. And the rest – with the concentration of the remaining fatty acids.
During further analysis, the scientists identified 28 point mutations that affected the chemical composition of the oil especially strongly. Using these markers, breeders can accurately predict what properties the new sunflower varieties they cultivate will have. Thanks to this, they push the evolution of plants in the right direction.
In particular, scientists note that in this way, it will be possible to derive plants, the oil from which will be ideal for dressing salads, as well as for frying food or industrial use, without resorting to genome editing technologies.