GM crops in fish oils break­through

Fish Farmer - - United Kingdom News -

SCI­EN­TISTS at Rotham­sted Re­search have pro­duced the first field crop of oilseed plants ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered to make omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.

In a land­mark pa­per pub­lished last month in the jour­nal Meta­bolic En­gi­neer­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the re­searchers an­nounced the first year re­sults of the field-scale trial of the GM Camelina oilseed plants.

Omega-3 fish oils - specif­i­cally long-chain polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids (omega-3 LC-PUFA) eicos­apen­taenoic acid (EPA) and do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid (DHA) - are ac­knowl­edged by the med­i­cal com­mu­nity to be ben­e­fi­cial com­po­nents of the hu­man diet.

The pri­mary di­etary sources of EPA and DHA are ma­rine fish, ei­ther wild or farmed.

Fish, like hu­mans, ac­cu­mu­late the omega-3 fish oils by feed­ing on other or­gan­isms in the ma­rine food chain or, in the case of farmed fish, through fish­meal and fish oil in feed. As the pro­duc­tion of fish through aqua­cul­ture in­creases so does the need to find al­ter­na­tive sources of omega-3 fish oils.

Rotham­sted’s new data - which demon­strate that a crop plant can be en­gi­neered to syn­the­sise these ben­e­fi­cial fatty acids in seeds - pro­vide hope for sus­tain­able land-based sources of omega-3 fish oils.

Although pre­vi­ous ex­per­i­ments in glass- houses had given pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tions for the per­for­mance of this trait, this trial demon­strated the sta­bil­ity of the trait and the abil­ity of the GM Camelina plants to syn­the­sise use­ful quan­ti­ties of fish oils with­out any neg­a­tive ef­fects on yield.

Dr Olga Sayanova, the se­nior Rotham­sted re­searcher who de­vel­oped the GM Camelina plants, said: ‘Find­ing a land-based source of feed­stocks con­tain­ing omega-3 fish oils has long been an ur­gent pri­or­ity for truly sus­tain­able aqua­cul­ture.

‘Our re­sults give hope that oilseed crops grown on land can con­trib­ute to im­prov­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the fish farm­ing in­dus­try and the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment in the fu­ture.’

Above: Healthy oils

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