OPEN Plant cell reports | 31 Oct 2013
AK Beike, C Jaeger, F Zink, EL Decker and R Reski
Mosses have high contents of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Tissue-specific differences in fatty acid contents and fatty acid desaturase (FADS)-encoding gene expression exist. The arachidonic acid-synthesizing FADS operate in the ER. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are important cellular compounds with manifold biological functions. Many PUFAs are essential for the human diet and beneficial for human health. In this study, we report on the high amounts of very long-chain (vl) PUFAs (≥C20) such as arachidonic acid (AA) in seven moss species. These species were established in axenic in vitro culture, as a prerequisite for comparative metabolic studies under highly standardized laboratory conditions. In the model organism Physcomitrella patens, tissue-specific differences in the fatty acid compositions between the filamentous protonema and the leafy gametophores were observed. These metabolic differences correspond with differential gene expression of fatty acid desaturase (FADS)-encoding genes in both developmental stages, as determined via microarray analyses. Depending on the developmental stage and the species, AA amounts for 6-31 %, respectively, of the total fatty acids. Subcellular localization of the corresponding FADS revealed the endoplasmic reticulum as the cellular compartment for AA synthesis. Our results show that vlPUFAs are highly abundant metabolites in mosses. Standardized cultivation techniques using photobioreactors along with the availability of the P. patens genome sequence and the high rate of homologous recombination are the basis for targeted metabolic engineering in moss. The potential of producing vlPUFAs of interest from mosses will be highlighted as a promising area in plant biotechnology.
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