Researchers at Montana State University (MSU) have developed
a protein that can be expressed in oilseed crops to increase the oil yield by
as much as 40%, a development that could have an impact on the biodiesel
industry. Patents on this technology have been issued and research is ongoing.
Biodiesel is produced from a wide variety of oilseed crops:
In Europe, canola is the major biodiesel crop, while in the United States
soybeans dominate. The MSU technology has been demonstrated in corn and
soybeans and is expected to work for a broad range of oilseed plants used for
biodiesel and cooking oil.
Seed oil content increases are induced by capitalizing on
certain genes contained in oilseed crops, known as puroindoline genes, which
promote increased seed size and weight.
The puroindoline technology represents a novel method to
increase the seed oil content compared with other approaches.
Puroindolines are effective in increasing oil content in
both cereal and oilseed crops. An additional benefit is enhanced seed resistance
to fungal diseases.