Integration of omics approaches to understand oil/protein content during seed development in oilseed crops
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Oilseed crops, especially soybean (Glycine max) and canola/rapeseed (Brassica napus), produce seeds that are rich in both proteins and oils and that are major sources of energy and nutrition worldwide. Most of the nutritional content in the seed is accumulated in the embryo during the seed filling stages of seed development. Understanding the metabolic pathways that are active during seed filling and how they are regulated are essential prerequisites to crop improvement. In this review, we summarize various omics studies of soybean and canola/rapeseed during seed filling, with emphasis on oil and protein traits, to gain a systems-level understanding of seed development. Currently, most (80–85%) of the soybean and rapeseed reference genomes have been sequenced (950 and 850 megabases, respectively). Parallel to these efforts, extensive omics datasets from different seed filling stages have become available. Transcriptome and proteome studies have detected preponderance of starch metabolism and glycolysis enzymes to be the possible cause of higher oil in B. napus compared to other crops. Small RNAome studies performed during the seed filling stages have revealed miRNA-mediated regulation of transcription factors, with the suggestion that this interaction could be responsible for transitioning the seeds from embryogenesis to maturation. In addition, progress made in dissecting the regulation of de novo fatty acid synthesis and protein storage pathways is described. Advances in high-throughput omics and comprehensive tissue-specific analyses make this an exciting time to attempt knowledge-driven investigation of complex regulatory pathways.
KeywordsSeed development Seed composition Omics Systems biology Soybean Rapeseed/canola
The authors would like to thank Rodrigo Sarria and Steve Rounsley for their support and advice, and Steve Rounsley and Cory Christensen for critical review of this manuscript.
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