Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
A new source of omega-3 oils

A new source of omega-3 oils

[Music plays] (Narrator) Omega-3 fatty acids
are necessary for human health, playing an important role in
heart and brain function, as well as child and
infant development. The body can only make very small
amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, so they need to be obtained
from the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in
fish, such as salmon and tuna, but the original source
of these healthy oils are tiny plant like organisms
in the ocean called microalgae. Fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids
because they eat these microalgae. Fish have long been the
main source of the most beneficial Omega-3 oils,
until now, thanks to some groundbreaking
research from the CSIRO. Some plants, like flaxseed,
contain some Omega-3 oils; however they mostly
provide what are called short chain Omega-3s.
Shown here is the structure of a typical short chain Omega-3 oil,
ALA, found in flax oil. And here is the structure
of DHA, the important long chain Omega-3
oil found in fish. This longer more complex
structure of a long chain DHA is particularly important
in delivering the increased health benefits that come
from consuming fish oils. [Music plays] The Omega-3 DHA we eat is transported
to the human brain, eyes, and nervous system, where it’s
required for their proper development and function, and is particularly
important in infants. Long chain Omega-3 DHA has
also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, and it may
also play a role in mental health, depression, and various
inflammatory diseases. [Music plays] CSIRO scientists are
using advanced genetic technologies to transfer the
genes that make long chain Omega-3 oils from ocean
based microalgae to land based canola plants.
Unlike canola, microalgae contain all the genes
needed to make DHA. CSIRO scientists have
isolated an optimum set of genes from microalgae
that make Omega-3 DHA. The microalgae genes are transferred
into canola plant cells using a bacterium called Agrobacterium,
which uses a natural process to transfer
genes to plant cells. Cells receiving the microalgae
genes then divide and develop into a small shoot… and
finally a whole plant, similar to how you can take a
cutting from an adult plant and regenerate it
into a new plant. The genetically modified canola
plants are tested thoroughly over a number of generations, to
ensure that the plant is making DHA. All of the steps needed to
carry out this process, as well as trialling elite
canola lines and growing commercial crops, are conducted under
the strict regulatory requirements administered by the Office of
the Gene Technology Regulator. [Music plays] With an increasing consumer demand for
Omega-3 oils, and limitations on the ability of global fish stocks
to meet the expected demand, developing a land based source of long
chain Omega-3 oils will help meet the world’s growing appetite for this
important oil in a sustainable way. CSIRO, NUSEED, and the
GRDC, have established an important research collaboration
to develop a high value canola oil which will contain the same
high quality long chain Omega-3 oil that has
traditionally come from fish. Australian farmers are set to benefit
because they’ll have access to a new high value crop. They’ll be
guaranteed first access to this Omega-3 canola which will help them
gain a competitive advantage over other farmers from
around the world. After commercialisation
in the Australian market Omega-3 canola oil will
be targeted for global expansion, ensuring a reliable
and sustainable supply. The Australian and global aquaculture
industries will also benefit because they’ll be able to
decrease their reliance on fish oil sourced
from wild fish stocks. They’ll also be able to access a
reliable and sustainable source of DHA in their production of
high quality seafood products. Those that will benefit most
though are every day consumers, both in Australia and
around the world. They’ll soon have easy access
to a sustainable and renewable source of long chain Omega-3 oils
that are so vital to human health, through a
wide range of products. This project is a very exciting
example of how Australian scientists, the Australian grains industry,
and the Australian agribusiness industry, can come together to
harness cutting edge research and supply global markets
with a high value product. And with such important environmental
and public health benefits to add to the industry benefits,
Omega-3 canola is one of the most exciting research developments
coming from Australian science. [Music plays]

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