Erucic acid (22 : 1) is a major feedstock for the oleochemical industry. In this study, a gene stacking strategy was employed to develop transgenic Crambe abyssinica lines with increased 22 : 1 levels. Through integration of the LdLPAAT, BnFAE1 and CaFAD2-RNAi genes into the crambe genome, confirmed by Southern blot and qRT-PCR, the average levels of 18 : 1, 18 : 2 and 18 : 3 were markedly decreased and that of 22 : 1 was increased from 60% in the wild type to 73% in the best transgenic line of T4 generation. In single seeds of the same line, the 22 : 1 level could reach 76.9%, an increase of 28.0% over the wild type. The trierucin amount was positively correlated to 22 : 1 in the transgenic lines. Unlike high erucic rapeseed, the wild-type crambe contains 22 : 1 in the seed phosphatidylcholine and in the sn-2 position of triacylglycerols (5% and 8%, respectively). The transgenic line with high 22 : 1 had decreased 22 : 1 level in phosphatidylcholine, and this was negatively correlated with the 22 : 1 level at the sn-2 position of TAG. The significances of this study include (i) achieving an unprecedented level of 22 : 1 in an oil crop; (ii) disclosing mechanisms in the channelling of a triacylglycerol-specific unusual fatty acid in oil seeds; (iii) indicating potential limiting factors involved in the erucic acid biosynthesis and paving the way for further increase of this acid and (iv) development of an added value genetically modified oil crop having no risk of gene flow into feed and food crops.
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