Increase Production of Plant Oils [abstract]
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Plant-derived oils are the most energy-rich natural products, providing cost-effective biofuels and renewable feedstocks for various industrial application. The demand of plant oils for transportation fuels and green factory is increasing. However, one of the biggest challenges on in using plant oils as renewable alternatives to fossil oil and for industrial applications is the insufficient supply of plant lipids. To address this challenge, we are taking multiple-faceted, complementary approaches to elevate plant oil production. One is to increase carbon partitioning into lipids by identifying and manipulating cellular machinery that regulates oil synthesis and accumulation. Another is to increase plant growth and overall photosynthetic capacity by elucidating and altering cellular mediators that sense plant nutrient status for optimal growth. Another is to promote a sustainable production of biomass by increasing plant tolerance to stresses, such as drought and N and P deficiency. We have been using the model oilseed plants Arabidopsis for proof of concept studies, and have begun to test these concepts in oil seed crops such as soybean. Meanwhile, we are altering these regulatory processes in the low-input, potentially industrial oil crop camelina, which, unlike soybean or other major oil crops, is suited to marginal soils and/or soil- and resource-conserving agricultural practices.