Tree peony is known worldwide for its excellent ornamental and medical values, but recent reports that their seeds contain over 40% α-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid for humans drew additional interest of biochemists. To understand the key factors that contribute to this rich accumulation of ALA, we carried out a comprehensive study of oil accumulation in developing seeds of nine wild tree peony species. The fatty acid content and composition was highly variable among the nine species; however, we selected a high- (P. rockii) and low-oil (P. lutea) accumulating species for a comparative transcriptome analysis. Similar to other oilseed transcriptomic studies, upregulation of select genes involved in plastidial fatty acid synthesis, and acyl editing, desaturation and triacylglycerol assembly in the endoplasmic reticulum was noted in seeds of P. rockii relative to P. lutea. Also, in association with the ALA content, transcript levels for fatty acid desaturases (SAD, FAD2 and FAD3), which encode for enzymes necessary for polyunsaturated fatty acid synthesis were higher in P. rockii compared to P. lutea. We further showed that the overexpression of PrFAD2 and PrFAD3 in Arabidopsis increased linoleic and α-linolenic acid content, respectively and modulated their final ratio in the seed oil. In conclusion, we identified the key steps that contribute to efficient ALA synthesis and validated the necessary desaturases in P. rockii that are responsible for not only increasing oil content but also modulating 18:2/18:3 ratio in seeds. Together, these results will aid to improve essential fatty acid content in seeds of tree peonies and other crops of agronomic interest.
San Jose, CA
Kilaru, Aruna; Xie, Lihang H.; Zhang, Qingyu; and Zhang, Yanlong. 2019. Tree Peony Species Are a Novel Resource for Production of α-Linolenic Acid. Poster Presentation. American Society of Plant Biologists, Annual Meeting,, San Jose, CA. https://plantbiology.aspb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Plant-Biology-2019-Posters.pdf