Low cholesterol oil? Indian scientists developing CRISPR gene-edited groundnut

Image Credit: Krishi Jagran

Soon, weight watchers and those with high cholesterol won’t have to think twice before picking up the jar of groundnut oil from supermarkets. Scientists are all set to help farmers grow groundnut which will be free of cholesterol, the waxy substance most dreaded for clogging arteries.

Using the latest genome editing technology, a team of researches at Junagadh Agriculture University (JAU) have started working on making cholesterol-free groundnut.

JAU is the only third university in India after Mohali Agriculture University and Jawaharlal Nehru University to start using CRISPR/Cas9, the gene-editing technique by which parts of DNA are either removed or replaced with accuracy.

Related article:  CRISPR-based drugs face tricky manufacturing problem

According to JAU scientists, two types of fatty acids- oleic acid and linoleic acids (OL) – make for 80% of oil in the groundnut. Linoleic acid raises cholesterol levels while oleic acid reduces this waxy substance often associated with heart diseases.

According to scientists, if the same process is done through traditional methods like cross-breeding, it would take seven or eight years to develop and another four years to pass regulatory proceedings. Genome editing can reduce this time to two or three years to get the same result.

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