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Genetic variation of six desaturase genes in flax and their impact on fatty acid composition.

Thambugala, D., Duguid, S.D., Loewen, E., Rowland, G.G., Booker, H.M., You, F.M., and Cloutier, S. (2013). "Genetic variation of six desaturase genes in flax and their impact on fatty acid composition.", Theoretical and Applied Genetics (TAG), 126(10), pp. 2627-2641. doi : 10.1007/s00122-013-2161-2  Access to full text


Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids praised for their health benefits. In this study, the extent of the genetic variability of genes encoding stearoyl-ACP desaturase (SAD), and fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) and 3 (FAD3) was determined by sequencing the six paralogous genes from 120 flax accessions representing a broad range of germplasm including some EMS mutant lines. A total of 6 alleles for sad1 and sad2, 21 for fad2a, 5 for fad2b, 15 for fad3a and 18 for fad3b were identified. Deduced amino acid sequences of the alleles predicted 4, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 isoforms, respectively. Allele frequencies varied greatly across genes. Fad3a, with 110 SNPs and 19 indels, and fad3b, with 50 SNPs and 5 indels, showed the highest levels of genetic variations. While most of the SNPs and all the indels were silent mutations, both genes carried nonsense SNP mutations resulting in premature stop codons, a feature not observed in sad and fad2 genes. Some alleles and isoforms discovered in induced mutant lines were absent in the natural germplasm. Correlation of these genotypic data with fatty acid composition data of 120 flax accessions phenotyped in six field experiments revealed statistically significant effects of some of the SAD and FAD isoforms on fatty acid composition, oil content and iodine value. The novel allelic variants and isoforms identified for the six desaturases will be a resource for the development of oilseed flax with unique and useful fatty acid profiles.

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