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Tree peony (Paeonia section Moutan DC.) species are woody oil crops with high unsaturated fatty acid content, including α-linolenic acid (ALA/18:3; >40% of the total fatty acid). Comparative transcriptome analyses were carried out to uncover the underlying mechanisms responsible for high and low ALA content in the developing seeds of P. rockii and P. lutea, respectively. Expression analysis of acyl lipid metabolism genes revealed upregulation of select genes involved in plastidial fatty acid synthesis, acyl editing, desaturation, and triacylglycerol assembly in seeds of P. rockiirelative to P. lutea. Also, in association with ALA content in seeds, transcript levels for fatty acid desaturases (SAD, FAD2, and FAD3), which encode enzymes necessary for polyunsaturated fatty acid synthesis, were higher in P. rockii compared to P. lutea. Furthermore, the overexpression of PrFAD2 and PrFAD3 in Arabidopsis increased linoleic and ALA content, respectively, and modulated the final ratio 18:2/18:3 in the seed oil. In conclusion, we identified the key steps and validated the necessary desaturases that contribute to efficient ALA synthesis in a woody oil crop. Together, these results will aid to increase essential fatty acid content in seeds of tree peonies and other crops of agronomic interest.

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© 2018 by the authors. This document was originally published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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