Use of metabolic control analysis to give quantitative information on control of lipid biosynthesis in the important oil crop, Elaeis guineensis (oilpalm)


Author for correspondence:
John L. Harwood
Tel: +44(0)2920 874108


  • • Oil crops are a very important commodity. Although many genes and enzymes involved in lipid accumulation have been identified, much less is known of regulation of the overall process. To address the latter we have applied metabolic control analysis to lipid synthesis in the important crop, oilpalm (Elaeis guineensis).
  • • Top-down metabolic control analysis (TDCA) was applied to callus cultures capable of accumulating appreciable triacylglycerol. The biosynthetic pathway was divided into two blocks, connected by the intermediate acyl-CoAs. Block A comprised enzymes for fatty acid synthesis and Block B comprised enzymes of lipid assembly.
  • • Double manipulation TDCA used diflufenican and bromooctanoate to inhibit Block A and Block B, respectively, giving Block flux control coefficients of 0.61 and 0.39. Monte Carlo simulations provided extra information from previously-reported single manipulation TDCA data, giving Block flux control coefficients of 0.65 and 0.35 for A and B.
  • • These experiments are the first time that double manipulation TDCA has been applied to lipid biosynthesis in any organism. The data show that approaching two-thirds of the total control of carbon flux to lipids in oilpalm cultures lies with the fatty acid synthesis block of reactions. This quantitative information will assist future, informed, genetic manipulation of oilpalm.