Oil Palm Transgenic Research: Challenges, Update, and Future Outlook

  • Omar Abdul RasidEmail author
  • Subhi Siti Masura
  • Ayub Nor Hanin
  • Dayang Izawati Abang Masli
  • Bahariah Bohari
  • Mat Yunus Abdul Masani
  • Ghulam Kadir Ahmad Parveez
Part of the Compendium of Plant Genomes book series (CPG)


Oil palm is a major economic crop for Malaysia and it has contributed significantly to the country’s revenues. However, the industry is facing a number of challenges including labor shortage, reduced availability of arable land, and competition from other sources of oils and fats. Thus, strategies must be put in place for the industry to remain competitive. This could be attained through increase in yield, diversification of palm oil applications into higher value products, and production of value-added products. Genetic engineering has been identified as a complementary tool to breeding technique for overcoming the above challenges. The oil palm genetic engineering program was initiated more than two decades ago with the main target to increase oleic acid content. The initial optimization work for oil palm transformation was carried out using biolistics protocol leading to the first successful report of oil palm transformation in the mid 1990s. The optimized protocol was later used to produce transgenic oil palm with high oleic acid as well as other target products. However, analysis of these plants indicated the low efficiency and repeatability of the protocol. Work to improve the transformation efficiency was subsequently carried out including optimization of selection scheme. Moreover, due to recent successful application of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation in several monocots, effort to develop the system for oil palm was also initiated. This paper describes the efforts to develop the transformation systems for oil palm and challenges faced during the process.


Oil palm Genetic engineering Biolistics transformation Agrobacterium transformation Selectable marker 



The authors wish to thank the MPOB management for permission to publish this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Omar Abdul Rasid
    • 1
    Email author
  • Subhi Siti Masura
    • 1
  • Ayub Nor Hanin
    • 1
  • Dayang Izawati Abang Masli
    • 1
  • Bahariah Bohari
    • 1
  • Mat Yunus Abdul Masani
    • 1
  • Ghulam Kadir Ahmad Parveez
    • 1
  1. 1.Malaysian Palm Oil BoardKajangMalaysia

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