Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. David Hildebrand


Since the dawn of agriculture man has been genetically modifying crop plants to increase yield, quality and utility. In addition to selective breeding and hybridization we can utilize mutant populations and biotechnology to have greater control over crop plant modification than ever before. Increasing the production of plant oils such as soybean oil as a renewable resource for food and fuel is valuable. Successful breeding for higher oil levels in soybean, however, usually results in reduced protein, a second valuable seed component. We show that by manipulating a highly active acyl-CoA: diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) the hydrocarbon flux to oil in oilseeds can be increased without reducing the protein component. Compared to other plant DGATs, a DGAT from Vernonia galamensis (VgDGAT1A) produces much higher oil synthesis and accumulation activity in yeast, insect cells and soybean. Soybean lines expressing VgDGAT1A show a 4% increase in oil content without reductions in seed protein contents or yield per unit land area. Furthermore, we have screened a soybean fast neutrino population derived from M92-220 variety and found three high oil mutants that do not have reduced levels of protein. From the F2 plant populations we quantitatively pooled the high oil and low oil plants and performed comparative genomics hybridization (CGH). From the data it appears that two families have a 0.3 kb aberration in chromosome 14. We are performing further analysis to study this aberration and develop markers for molecular breeding. Mutagenic techniques are also useful for developing other traits such as early flowering varieties and adapting new high oil crops to a new region. Chia (Salvia hispanica) is an ancient crop that has experienced an agricultural resurgence in recent decades due to the high omega 3 fatty acid (ω-3) content of the seeds and good production potential. The area of cultivation has been expanded to Kentucky using mutagenized populations and the composition traits are similar to that of the original regions of cultivation in Central and South America.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Included in

Plant Biology Commons