Using Mass Spectrometry to Localize Lipid Metabolites in Camelina Seeds

The Science

Camelina sativa is a nonfood oilseed crop that, because of relatively low production costs and potential for use in a number of industrial applications, shows promise as a bioenergy feedstock. Additionally, the relative ease with which the plant can be genetically modified offers potential for altering the seed oil composition through engineering of the lipid and fatty acid metabolic pathways. To do this, however, it is important to understand how these pathways are regulated in different seed tissues. With funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Genomic Science Program, researchers from the University of North Texas used mass spectrometry imaging techniques to show that the distribution of various lipid-related metabolites and precursors are specific to certain distinct tissues within the seed embryo. This high-resolution metabolite mapping in Camelina seeds can be used to reveal new insights into tissue-based variation and illustrates the importance of considering spatial heterogeneity when designing metabolic engineering strategies for manipulating seed lipid composition. This work will facilitate more refined and accurate targeting when engineering plants for optimal seed oil composition.

BER Program Manager

Kari Perez

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


Horn, P. J., J. E. Silva, D. Anderson, J. Fuchs, L. Borisjuk, T. J. Nazarenus, V. Shulaev, E. B. Cahoon, and K. D. Chapman. 2013. “Imaging Heterogeneity of Membrane and Storage Lipids in Transgenic Camelina Sativa Seeds with Altered Fatty Acid Profiles,” The Plant Journal 76(1). DOI:10.1111/tpj.12278.