Gene for Low Calorie, Low Viscosity Vegetable Oil

Michael Pollard, John Ohlrogge, Timothy Durrett

Biodiesel can substitute for conventional petroleum diesel in almost all applications. Oftentimes, use of biodiesel requires engine modification since biodiesel has different solvent properties and often degrades natural rubber. Since use of biodiesel is increasing rapidly, alternative biofuel supplies are needed to accommodate the growing demand.

The Invention

Michigan State University’s inventions provide a source and production method for novel plant oils, acetyl-triacylglycerols (ac-TAGs), with possible uses as biodiesel-like biofuel and/or as low-fat food ingredients. By combining an ac-TAG-related enzyme with a method for catalyzing large-scale synthesis of ac-TAGs, in a single crop, many benefits can be obtained. The inventions have lower viscosity and fewer calories per mole than TAGs. Pilot experiments by the inventors have achieved approximately a 60 mole percent accumulation of ac-TAGs. New biofuel: Acetyl-triacylglycerols are a new renewable fuel-oil that would be extracted from oil-seed crops and provide improved properties for uses as fuels without the need of esterification. New low-calorie food ingredient with lower cost: The lower calorie content and better (reduced fat storage) bodily fate of ac-TAGs compared to equivalent conventional TAGs provides an opportunity to produce “natural plant oils,” and thus foods with lower calorie content, without the need to chemically modify oils. New polymer substrate: Substitution of acetyl-TAGs for conventional TAGs will provide opportunities to produce novel polymers with new properties.

Key Benefits
  • New biofuel
  • New low-calorie food ingredient with lower cost
  • New polymer substrate
  • This technology can provide a new biofuel with improved properties and production compared to existing biodiesel products. Also, ac-TAGs can provide new polymers with new properties and a lower calorie content food ingredient compared to conventional TAG oils.
Technology Contact

Thomas Herlache Assistant Director Michigan State University​

Sustainable Bioenergy Cropping Systems