Plant oil bodies (OBs) are subcellular organelles involved in lipid reserve accumulation in seeds and other organs. OBs are composed by a core of neutral lipids surrounded by a phospholipids' monolayer in which a series of specific proteins are embedded. In plants, most abundant OB associated proteins are oleosins, but other proteins have been described. Although in microbes and animals OB associated proteins are mostly comprised of enzymes or proteins involved in subcellular transport, there is few information about the association of these type of proteins to plant OBs and their role in the dynamics of OBs during seed development.
We are using genetic, molecular, metabolomic and proteomic approaches in order to identify and characterize new proteins involved in the structure and dynamics of OBs. As models we use Arabidopsis, rapeseed and maize. We identified a gene predominantly expressed in maize mature embryo (obap1a) encoding a protein located in OBs. Arabidopis obap1a mutant seeds show low germination rate, an increase in seed oil content and big and irregular OBs. Our findings suggest that OBAP1 protein is involved in the stability of OBs. Their possible applications for the increase in the production of biofuels in plant vegetative tissues are investigated.