Elevating seed oil content in a polyploid crop by induced mutations in SEED FATTY ACID REDUCER genes
Plant-based oils are valuable agricultural products, and seed oil content (SOC) is the major yield component in oil crops. Increasing SOC has been successfully targeted through the selection and genetic modification of oil biosynthesis. The SOC in rapeseed declined during the seed maturation and eventually caused the final accumulated seed oil quantity. However, genes involved in oil degradation during seed maturity are not deeply studied so far. We performed a candidate gene association study using a worldwide collection of rapeseed germplasm. We identified SEED FATTY ACID REDUCER (SFAR) genes, which had a significant effect on SOC and fatty acid (FA) composition. SFAR genes belong to the GDSL lipases, and GDSL lipases have a broad range of functions in plants. After quantification of gene expression using RNA-seq and quantitative PCR, we used targeted (CRISPR-Cas mediated) and random (chemical) mutagenesis to modify turnover rates of seed oil in winter rapeseed. For the first time, we demonstrate significant increase of SOC in a crop after knocking out members of the BnSFAR4 and BnSFAR5 gene families without pleiotropic effects on seed germination, vigour and oil mobilization. Our results offer new perspectives for improving oil yield by targeted mutagenesis.