Researchers at Iowa State University think they’ve nailed down a set of genes which plants use to create oil. The discovery may eventually let breeders adjust oil-making abilities of corn, soybeans and other plants. I-S-U botany professor David Oliver says the breakthrough answers the first of several genetic questions. Oliver, who chairs I-S-U’s botany department, says they’re striving to learn more about why a corn plant produces eight-percent oil versus a canola plant, which produces 50-percent oil. Down the road, the research could radically change the production of all sorts of products which are made from plant oils — from salad dressings and cooking oils to paint, lubricants and fuels. Oliver says they’ve had success with this initial step but much more research needs to be done. Oliver is working on the plant oil genetics project along with several other colleagues and departments at I-S-U, including the Center for Designer Crops.
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