Regulation and enhancement of lipid accumulation in oil crops: The use of metabolic control analysis for informed genetic manipulation



Plant oils are a very valuable agricultural commodity. They are currently mainly used (>80%) for food and animal feed but, increasingly, they have utility as renewable sources of industrial feedstocks or biofuel. Because of finite agricultural land, the best way to increase availability (in order to match demand) is by improving productivity. To do this requires a knowledge of metabolism and its regulation. Various methods have been used to provide information but only systems biology can yield quantitative data about complete metabolic pathways. We have used metabolic control analysis to provide information about major oil crops such as oilseed rape, oil palm, olive, and soybean. Such knowledge has then been used to inform genetic manipulation for crop improvement.