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Identification of genes affecting saturated fat acid content in Elaeis guineensis by genome-wide association analysis

By Wei Xia, Tingting Luo, Wei Zhang, Annaliese S. Mason, Dongyi Huang, Xiaolong Huang, Wenqi Tang, Yajing Dou, Chunyu Zhang, Yong Xiao

Posted 07 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/341347

Oil palm is the highest yielding oil crop per unit area worldwide. Unfortunately, palm oil is often considered unhealthy. In particular, palmic acid (C16:0) is a major component of palm oil. In this study a total of 1 261 501 SNP markers were produced in a diversity panel of 200 oil palm individuals. Oil content in this population varied from 29.8% to 70.3%, palmic acid varied from 31.3% to 48.8%, and oleic acid varied from 31.3% to 50.1%. We identified 274 SNP markers significantly associated with fatty acid compositions; 44 candidate genes in the flanking regions of these SNPs were involved in fatty acid biosynthesis and metabolism. Among them, two acyl-ACP thioesterase B genes had differential expression patterns between the mesocarp and kernel, tissues which show different oil profiles in oil palm (high palmic acid and high lauric acid respectively). Overexpression of both genes caused a significant increase in palmic acid content, while overexpression of the EgFatB2 gene also caused an accumulation of lauric acid and myristic acid. Our research provides genome-wide SNPs, a set of markers significantly associated with fatty acid content, and validated candidate genes for future targeted breeding of lower saturated fat content in palm oil.

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