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Research Highlights

Research Highlights
Development and Commercialization of Advanced High Oleic Germplasm Lines with Natural Mutations

High oleic field in Michigan, September 2019. Front row (left to right): Dr. Paul Collins, MSU Soybean Breeding Team; Ben Glass, Zeeland Farm Services; Dr. Dechun Wang, MSU Soybean Breeder; and Cuihua Gu, MSU Soybean Breeding Team. Back row: Scott VanSingel, State Representative; Mark Seamon, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee; Randy Laurenz, MSU Soybean Breeding Team; Fred Patin, soybean grower; and Dr. Zhaoming Qi, MSU Soybean Breeding Team.

By Dechun Wang, Ph.D., Michigan State University

High oxidative stability and long shelf life are critical characteristics of soybean oil. Until recently, these qualities could be improved in soybean oil through partial hydrogenation, which produces some trans fat as a byproduct. However, in 2018, the FDA changed the status of partially hydrogenated oils due to the presence of those trans fats, making them no longer generally regarded as safe. This resulted in them being significantly less valuable in the marketplace, with a corresponding loss of market share for soybean oil as compared to other vegetable oils with lower levels of trans fats. 

There are some varieties of soybean oil with higher levels of oleic acid which do not require partial hydrogenation in order to have a high oxidative stability and long shelf life, which means they do not contain trans fats. Demand for high oleic soybean oil is projected to increase rapidly in the next few years, and to recover the loss of market share of soybean oil. This $102,020 project involves developing those varieties. 

The Soybean Breeding Program at Michigan State University uses conventional breeding with high oleic mutants to develop non-GMO high oleic soybean varieties. These varieties, named Olasoy, also have low levels of linolenic acid and saturated fats, thus improving their shelf life and nutritional content. Olasoy varieties are developed by crossing high-yielding soybean varieties with soybean FAD2 mutants, originally identified at the University of Missouri. Over 1,000 Olasoy breeding lines were developed and tested in the field at different scales. The maturity of these lines ranges from 1.6 to 3.0. Two Olasoy varieties were released in 2019. The two varieties were planted on 860 acres on 10 commercial farms in Michigan, and the seeds will be crushed for a pilot non-GMO high oleic oil extraction by Zeeland Farm Services.

USB funding leveraged with an additional grant to extract, process and test oil from our non-GMO, high oleic varieties. The grant was jointly funded by Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization, the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and Zeeland Farm Services. With the help of seed oil experts at MSU and elsewhere, non-GMO high oleic oils were compared with GMO high oleic soybean oil, commodity soybean oil, high oleic canola oil and regular canola oil in their ability to fry 50 batches of French fries. Oil samples were collected after every 10 batches, and the samples were analyzed for oxidation and other changes in oil quality. The French fries were tested for differences in color, taste, texture and overall flavor. The MSU non-GMO high oleic oil showed significantly lower levels of oxidation than commodity soybean oil or canola oil, as indicated by significantly lower values of peroxide and anisidine after 50 batches of frying. No significant differences were found in color, taste, texture or overall liking of the French fries fried with different oils. 

These results offer much promise for the rapid development of high oleic, trans-fat-free varieties to help restore the global market demand for soybean oils. 

This project was funded by the soybean checkoff. To find research related to this research highlight or to see other checkoff research projects, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.