Unlocking the Secrets of Avocado Oil Biosynthesis

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Avocado is an economically important crop with ~ 60-70 % oil, by dry weight, in its fruit mesocarp tissue. The steady increase in global demand for avocado (9% per year) has driven interest to identify the biochemical and molecular factors that regulate its triacylglycerol (TAG, oil) biosynthesis. Using 454- and Illumina-based RNA-Seq approaches, we examined the transcriptional basis for TAG biosynthesis in developing mesocarp of avocado. Deep transcriptional profiling data allowed us to identify several transcripts that were differentially represented between the early and late developmental stages of mesocarp. Further analysis of the transcriptome, during oil accumulation, revealed an increased expression of genes mostly associated with fatty acid biosynthesis in plastid but not that of TAG assembly in the endoplasmic reticulum. This pattern of expression was similar to that previously observed in other seed and non-seed tissues. Moreover, WRINKLED1 transcription factor, a regulatory element associated with oil biosynthesis in seed and non-seed tissues of monocot and dicot plants, was identified in avocado as well. Our studies point to distinctive modes of regulation of fatty acid biosynthesis and TAG assembly that are conserved in both seed and non-seed oil-rich plants.


San Diego, CA

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