Oil palm is a major economic crop for Malaysia. The major challenges faced by the industry are labor shortage, availability of arable land and unstable commodity price. This has caused the industry to diversify its applications into higher value products besides increasing its yield. While conventional breeding has its limitations, biotechnology was identified as one of the tools for overcoming the above challenges. Research on biotechnology of oil palm began more than two decades ago leveraging a multidisciplinary approach involving biochemical studies, gene and promoter isolation, transformation vector construction and finally genetic transformation to produce the targeted products. The main target of oil palm biotechnology research is to increase oleic acid in the mesocarp. Other targets are stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, ricinoleic acid, lycopene (carotenoid) and biodegradable plastics. Significant achievements were reported for the biochemical studies, isolation of useful oil palm genes and characterization of important promoters. A large number of transformation constructs for various targeted products were successfully produced using the isolated oil palm genes and promoters. Finally transformation of these constructs into oil palm embryogenic calli was carried out while the regeneration of transgenic oil palm harboring the useful genes is in progress.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.