Why do plants produce oil?
I was eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich the other day. I was wondering, they use plant based products, like corn and peanuts, to make vegetable oil. It got me thinking, why do plants even make oil? It is to keep warm like mammals?
Sarah Shailes answered Hong's oily question...
Sarah - One of the main reasons they do it is to store energy. Like us, they use fats to store to store energy. Oils contain fats called triglycerides and they contain building blocks called fatty acids. They’re found particularly in seeds, for example, so the plants we use to commercially produce oils their seeds are particularly rich in oils. So peanuts, sunflower seeds, oil seed rape, that kind of thing.
But the fatty acids can also be incorporated into other molecules called phospholipids and these are found in the membranes surrounding plant cells, so the fatty acids there have a big role in controlling how fluid the membrane is and that’s really important for plant cells to work and all cells, in fact to work. They also have a role when the temperature changes in making sure that plane cells still function.