Molecular breeding strategies for the modification of lipid composition

Denis J. Murphy*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Lipids are key components of all living cells. Acyl lipids and sterols provide the matrix of the biological membranes that both define the boundaries of cells and organelles, and act as sites for the trafficking of molecules within and into/out of cells. Lipids are also important metabolic intermediates and the most efficient form of energy storage that is available to a cell. It is the latter, energy-storing function that is of most relevance to this review. Storage lipids are accumulated in abundance in many of our most important crops, including maize, soybean, rapeseed, and oil palm, giving rise to a commercial sector valued at over $50 billion/year. Because the storage lipids of the major global oil crops have a relatively restricted composition, there is great interest in using all available breeding technologies, whether traditional or modern, to enhance the variation in lipid quality in existing crops and/or to domesticate new crops that already accumulate useful novel lipids. Over the past few decades, there has been a great deal of effort to manipulate fatty acid composition in order to produce novel lipids, especially for industrial applications. However, these attempts, many based on genetic engineering, have met with only limited commercial success to date. More recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the modification of both acyl and non-acyl lipids to enhance the nutritional quality of plant oils. In this review, we will examine the background to plant lipid modification and some of the latest developments, with a particular focus on edible oils.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-99
    Number of pages11
    JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plant
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


    • Breeding
    • Edible oils
    • Fatty acids
    • Lipids
    • Oil crops
    • Transgenic


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