"For food use it's important to have a healthy balance of these. However, the polyunsaturates cause problems for industrial use because they are unstable and difficult to remove during oil processing," he said.
Dr Green said the team used CSIRO gene silencing technology to boost the level of desirable oleic acid in the seed by switching off its conversion to the undesirable polyunsaturates.
"We have succeeded in dramatically lowering the polyunsaturates to below three per cent, thereby raising the monounsaturate oleic acid to over 90 per cent purity," Dr Green said.
This new 'super-high' oleic safflower was developed by the Crop Biofactories Initiative, a strategic research and product development partnership between CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Dr Jody Higgins, Senior Manager Commercial Grain Technologies at the GRDC, said the breakthrough development could create a new crop industry in Australia, initially suitable for farmers in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
"Safflower is an old crop known from ancient times, but it is very minor crop in Australia today because of the low local demand for its current oil quality type," Dr Higgins said.
"Interestingly, safflower was originally grown in Australia as an industrial crop where the oil was used to make paints and resins," she said.
Safflower is ideal for Australian biofactories as it is a very hardy and adaptable crop that does well in warm-season conditions and should cope well with the expected stresses of climate change.
"Our market intelligence has shown that global demand for high purity oleic acid oil could require over 100,000 hectares of 'super-high' oleic safflowe
|Contact: Kylie Williams|