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Seed storage lipids are valuable for human diet and for the sustainable development of mankind. In recent decades, many lipid metabolism genes and pathways have been identified, but the molecular mechanisms that underlie differences in seed oil biosynthesis in species with developed embryo and endosperm are not fully understood. We performed comparative genome and transcriptome analyses of castor bean and rapeseed, which have high seed oil contents, and maize, which has a low seed oil content. These results revealed the molecular underpinnings of the low seed oil content in maize. First of all, transcriptome analyses showed that more than 61% of the lipid- and carbohydrate-related genes were regulated in castor bean and rapeseed, but only 20.1% of the lipid-related genes and 22.5% of the carbohydrate-related genes were regulated in maize. Then, compared to castor bean and rapeseed, fewer lipid biosynthesis genes but more lipid metabolism genes were regulated in the maize embryo. More importantly, most maize genes encoding lipid-related transcription factors, triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthetic enzymes, pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) and Calvin Cycle proteins were not regulated during seed oil synthesis, despite the presence of many homologs in the maize genome. Additionally, we observed differential regulation of vital oil biosynthetic enzymes and extremely high expression levels of oil biosynthetic genes in castor bean, which were consistent with the rapid accumulation of oil in castor bean developing seeds. Compared to high-oil seeds (castor bean and rapeseed), less oil biosynthetic genes were regulated during the seed development in low-oil seed (maize). These results shed light on molecular mechanisms of lipid biosynthesis in maize, castor bean, and rapeseed. They can provide information on key target genes that may be useful for future experimental manipulation of oil production in oil plants. © 2022. The Author(s).


Nian Liu, Jing Liu, Shihang Fan, Hongfang Liu, Xue-Rong Zhou, Wei Hua, Ming Zheng. An integrated omics analysis reveals the gene expression profiles of maize, castor bean, and rapeseed for seed oil biosynthesis. BMC plant biology. 2022 Mar 29;22(1):153

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PMID: 35350998

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