Our partnership proposes to provide a new, sustainable and improved source of stearidonic acid (SDA, C18:4n-3) from plant sources. SDA is a key precursor in the biosynthesis of long chain (LC) omega-3 (or n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5n-3) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, (22:6 n-3) that are commonly found in fish oils. The potential health benefits of increasing n-3 PUFA in an ageing population with low levels of fish consumption and declining availability highlights the need to develop alternative dietary sources of these fatty acids.
There is a clear need for an alternative source of LCPUFA that is sustainable; preferably not from a genetically modified organism and capable of being grown using conventional English farming techniques. The only n-3 LCPUFAs common in plants are ALA (found in flaxseed oil) and SDA (found in blackcurrant seed oil and Echium plantagineum seed oil). The SDA content of blackcurrant seed oil is low (~3%) and Echium is a very low yielding plant species. Buglossoides arvensis (syn Lithospermum arvensis, or Corn Gromwell) is potentially a superior source of SDA with major yield/agronomic and hence cost advantages over Echium plantageneum.
Funding: Project sponsored by Defra through the Sustainable Arable LINK programme and industrial support.
Collaborating Organisations: MRC Human Nutrition Research; Technology Crops International and Croda Europe Ltd