Identification of genes involved in lipid biosynthesis through de novo Transcriptome assembly from cocos nucifera developing endosperm

Kyle B. Reynolds, Darren P. Cullerne, Anna El Tahchy, Vivien Rolland, Christopher L. Blanchard, Craig C. Wood, Surinder P. Singh, James R. Petrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Cocos nucifera (coconut), a member of the Arecaceae family, is an economically important woody palm that is widely grown in tropical and subtropical regions. The coconut palm is well known for its ability to accumulate large amounts of oil, approximately 63% of the seed weight. Coconut oil varies significantly from other vegetable oils as it contains a high proportion of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA; 85%). The unique composition of coconut oil raises interest in understanding how the coconut palm produces oil of a high saturated MCFA content, and if such an oil profile could be replicated via biotechnology interventions. Although some gene discovery work has been performed there is still a significant gap in the knowledge associated with coconut’s oil production pathways. In this study, a de novo transcriptome was assembled for developing coconut endosperm to identify genes involved in the synthesis of lipids, particularly triacylglycerol. Of particular interest were thioesterases, acyltransferases and oleosins because of their involvement in the processes of releasing fatty acids for assembly, esterification of fatty acids into glycerolipids and protecting oils from degradation, respectively. It is hypothesized that some of these genes may exhibit a strong substrate preference for MCFA and hence may assist the future development of vegetable oils with an enriched MCFA composition. In this study, we identified and confirmed functionality of five candidate genes from the gene families of interest. This study will benefit future work in areas of increasing vegetable oil production and the tailoring of oil fatty acid compositions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-960
Number of pages16
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2019


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