Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are valuable products because of their involvement in several aspects of human health. Market demand for most PUFAs is growing continually and current sources are considered insufficient for satisfying this demand; alternative sources are actively sought after. Oilseed plants can be a potential source of PUFAs if they are appropriately gene engineered. Most of the basic tools for genetic engineering of oilseed plants for giving them the ability to produce PUFAs are already developed. Here we review the prospects of genetic engineering of oilseed plants for producing some valuable long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Genetic transformation for GLA production seems to be a near-term possibility, but gene engineering seems considerably more difficult for the other long-chain PUFAs. Nevertheless, with the current rapid pace of biotechnological advancement, the remaining difficulties may be surmounted in the near future. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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