This E-Team developed novel technology to generate modified root crops that produce significant quantities of vegetable oil. A cloned mutant gene named PICKLE (PKL) produces plants that accumulate large amounts of oil in their roots. The team believes radishes are promising candidates for hosting the gene because of their bigger roots, capable of storing large amounts of oil. They tested a variety of crops and established connections with the biofuels market.
Successful development of this technology would significantly expand the amount of crops that can produce commercially extractable vegetable oil. An increase in vegetable oil will be beneficial to several markets because it is a key ingredient in numerous products such as food for human consumption, biofuels, animal feed, plastics, and lubricants. The team has chosen to focus on vegetable oil to generate biofuels.
The licensing of genetically modified crops has blossomed into a multibillion dollar industry: seven million farmers in eighteen countries planted genetically modified crops in 2004.