Improved soybean oil quality by targeted mutagenesis of the fatty acid desaturase 2 gene family

William Haun, Andrew Coffman, Benjamin M. Clasen, Zachary L. Demorest, Anita Lowy, Erin Ray, Adam Retterath, Thomas Stoddard, Alexandre Juillerat, Frederic Cedrone, Luc Mathis, Daniel F. Voytas, Feng Zhang

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Soybean oil is high in polyunsaturated fats and is often partially hydrogenated to increase its shelf life and improve oxidative stability. The trans-fatty acids produced through hydrogenation pose a health threat. Soybean lines that are low in polyunsaturated fats were generated by introducing mutations in two fatty acid desaturase 2 genes (FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B), which in the seed convert the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, to the polyunsaturated fat, linoleic acid. Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) were engineered to recognize and cleave conserved DNA sequences in both genes. In four of 19 transgenic soybean lines expressing the TALENs, mutations in FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B were observed in DNA extracted from leaf tissue; three of the four lines transmitted heritable FAD2-1 mutations to the next generation. The fatty acid profile of the seed was dramatically changed in plants homozygous for mutations in both FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B: oleic acid increased from 20% to 80% and linoleic acid decreased from 50% to under 4%. Further, mutant plants were identified that lacked the TALEN transgene and only carried the targeted mutations. The ability to create a valuable trait in a single generation through targeted modification of a gene family demonstrates the power of TALENs for genome engineering and crop improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)934-940
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Fatty acid desaturase
  • Linoleic acid
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Oleic acid
  • Targeted mutagenesis


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