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K-State Today

September 4, 2018

Timothy Durrett featured speaker for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar Sept. 5

Submitted by Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Timothy Durrett, assistant professor of biochemistry at K-State, will present "Remodeling oilseed biochemistry to synthesize novel lipids and enhanced properties" at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in 120 Ackert Hall as part of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Seminar series.

Timothy received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He spent several years as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of John Ohlrogge and Mike Pollard in the plant biology department at Michigan State University before coming to K-State. His research specialties include biochemistry of triacylglycerol biosynthesi, structure and function of membrane bound acyltransferases and genetically modifying the physical properties of seed oils for industrial and biofuel applications.

Presentation abstract: Vegetable oils have long been used as sources of energy and chemical industry feedstocks. Metabolic engineering to improve the chemical and physical properties of plant oils for different applications has typically proven difficult. I will, however, describe successful work from my lab that has resulted in transgenic Camelina sativa plants with the highest accumulation of unusual oils achieved to date. Acetyl-TAGs are unusual triacylglycerols (TAG) with an sn-3 acetate group that possess reduced viscosity and improved cold temperature properties compared to other vegetable oils. I will discuss how we isolated additional enzymes that synthesize acetyl-TAGs in order to understand their extreme substrate specificity. I will also explain how we used some of these enzymes, as well as efforts to increase acetyl-CoA supply, to further enhance the levels of acetyl-TAGs produced in transgenic camelina. In addition, we also used synthetic biology approaches to further modify the fatty acid composition, and thus the properties, of acetyl-TAGs.

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