Researchers Develop High-Oleic Safflower Strain

Researchers from Hyderabad's Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Institute of Oilseeds Research have cultivated three non-genetically modified varieties of safflowers with an oleic content comparable to olive oil.

By Mary Hernandez
May. 30, 2017 09:42 UTC

A team of sci­en­tists from Hyderabad’s Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research (ICAR-IIOR) has suc­cess­fully devel­oped and tested three new vari­eties of saf­flower cul­ti­vars with an oleic con­tent of up to 75 per­cent, which is sim­i­lar to the level of oleic con­tent found in olive oil.

Not only do the cul­ti­vars pos­sess a higher level of oleic con­tent in com­par­i­son to stan­dard saf­flow­ers (which con­tain between 16 – 20 per­cent oleic con­tent), but they are also free from genetic mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

The sci­en­tific team respon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment was led by Anjani Kammili (from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research) and Praduman Yadav (from the Directorate of Oilseeds Research). Their detailed find­ings will be released in the Industrial Crops and Products Journal in September 2017. The ICAR-IIOR reports to India’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education and Ministry of Agriculture as an autonomous body respon­si­ble for coor­di­nat­ing agri­cul­tural edu­ca­tion and research in the coun­try.

To develop the cul­ti­vars, a cost effec­tive, envi­ron­ment-friendly clas­si­cal breed­ing approach was taken by cross­ing a low- and high-oleic geno­type of saf­flower, result­ing in the three non-genet­i­cally mod­i­fied high-oleic lines of saf­flow­ers.

These lines (named ISF‑1, ISF‑2 and ISF‑3) were tested at 10 dif­fer­ent loca­tions across India under dry and irri­gated con­di­tions, mak­ing them the first first oleic safflower cul­ti­vars devel­oped for growth under Indian con­di­tions.

Testing of the cultivar’s fatty acid com­po­si­tion revealed that all three lines con­sis­tently dis­played high oleic acid con­tent across the var­i­ous loca­tions and across dif­fer­ing envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions, mak­ing their oleic acid highly sta­ble. As a result of these find­ings, the study has denoted that the safflower’s oleic con­tent, oil con­tent and seed yield can there­fore be improved through sim­ple clas­si­cal breed­ing.

The devel­op­ment forms part of a con­trac­tual research project funded by Marico Limited, an Indian con­sumer goods com­pany with a large stake in the local edi­ble oil mar­ket. The com­pany has licensed two of the high-oleic saf­flower lines for three years. Large scale com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion has already been ini­ti­ated, with pro­duc­tion expected to increase soon.

India is cur­rently the world’s sec­ond-largest saf­flower grow­ing coun­try. By increas­ing the qual­ity of the saf­flower oil being pro­duced, the mar­ket value of the prod­uct can be improved, while reduc­ing the country’s reliance on imported high oleic edi­ble oil.

Safflower oil with a higher oleic con­tent has a higher oxida­tive sta­bil­ity, mak­ing it suit­able for deeper and longer fry­ing of food. It also has a higher sin­gle point sat­u­ra­tion, mak­ing it suit­able for use in the oleo­chem­i­cal indus­try in every­thing from bio­fu­els and cos­met­ics to soaps and deter­gents.

While high oleic con­tent saf­flower cul­ti­vars have been devel­oped before by other coun­tries, none have been indige­nously devel­oped and proven to thrive in an Indian ecosys­tem. And as the com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion of genet­i­cally mod­ified food crops is cur­rently pro­hib­ited in India, a non-genet­i­cally mod­i­fied cul­ti­var is nec­es­sary if the end result is to be an edi­ble oil prod­uct.


Related Articles