W. Friedt
The seed oil of different oil crops is basically characterized by specific fatty acid patterns. This is due to the action of specific genes encoding respective enzymes involved in fatty acid biosynthesis. Consequently, fatty acid composition can be further modified by genetic manipulations, i.e., both by classical and modern breeding methods. As an example, erucic acid was eliminated from the seed oil of different cruciferous crops such as rapeseed (Canola, Brassica sp.), so that rapeseed provides a prime edible oil for human consumption now. Further examples are sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) cultivars with high oleic acid and oilflax (linseed, Linum usitatissimum L.) with extremely low linolenic acid content. Such novel types of vegetable oil are highly appreciated in human and animal diets, e.g., due to their improved stability.

Further breeding progress can be achieved by an application of biotechnology, i.e., cell and tissue culture techniques and molecular methods. Considerable steps toward practical application of such novel techniques have been reported for different oil crops - in particular rapeseed and oilflax. In these species it is possible now to obtain haploid plants reproducibly through microspore or another culture which principally results in a time gain of several years. Interspecific hybridization is another interesting supplementary technique in plant breeding; it can help to create new genetic variation. Interspecific crosses have been successfully used, for example in the Cruciferae family and in the genus Helianthus, by application of the embryo rescue technique. On this basis, related species can be used as gene sources to improve various agronomically important characters.

For species recalcitrant to sexual hybridization, the protoplast fusion technique would be an elegant method to achieve hybrids, provided that the regeneration of intact plants is feasible. Foreign genes can even more elegantly be transferred from one species to another by means of genetic engineering. Necessary prerequisites for an application of gene technology in oilseed breeding are principally available, i.e., efficient vectors and transformation systems have been elaborated and a number of target genes have been isolated meanwhile. Therefore, the transfer of relevant genes, especially for seed oil quality, to cultivated species can be anticipated for the nearer future - provided that entire, reproductive plants can be regenerated from the manipulated cell(s) or tissue. Genetic engineering is recognized as a novel and efficient pathway for creating novel genetic variation for the plant breeder.

Friedt, W. (1994). PROMISING ROUTES OF OILSEED BREEDING. Acta Hortic. 355, 243-254
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1994.355.27

Acta Horticulturae