Innovations in Oils

Transitioning to renewable resources


Normally linseed (flaxseed) produces an oil with over 50% linolenic acid (18:3), which is highly susceptible to oxidation and imparts a strong drying property on the oil. This makes linseed oil a sought-after industrial ingredient for oil-based paints and other surface coatings, but severely limits its use in food products. To enable the broader use of linseed as a food oil, a new low-linolenic form was bred by inducing mutations that inactivated the two Fad3 genes responsible for conversion of linoleic acid (18:2) to linolenic acid, leading to a build up in linoleic acid to around 65-70% and leaving only around 3% linolenic acid.

The new oil was developed by CSIRO and United Grain Growers (Canada) during the late 1980s and early 1990s.  It was commercialised under the Linola™ brand mainly in Canada (where it was classified under the Solin flax grain category), and to a lesser degree in Australia and the UK during the 1990s and early 2000s, with the oil being used mainly by Unilever as a replacement for sunflower and safflower oil in the highly polyunsaturated margarines of that time. However, the strong shift in the market-place to monounsaturated oils and the sustained expansion of the more-productive canola crop resulted in Linola exiting commercial production in 2007.

Linola has recently begun to be evaluated as a drying agent in bio-based interior paints where its fatty acid profile gives excellent drying properties without the undesirable yellowing that was typical of linseed oil based paints.

Get the facts …

Linola is the latest entry in specialty oils marketplace. I.C.I.S., 1998

Genetic control of polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed oil. Theoretical & Applied Genetics (1986)

A mutant genotype of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) containing very low levels of linolenic acid in its seed oil. Canadian Journal Plant Science (1986)

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