Cuphea is a tropically grown flowering plant which is known as a rich source of medium-chain fatty acids having high commercial value. However this plant is not commercially utilized in large-scale agriculture due to its characteristic sequential maturation and release of oil seeds from the seed pods which precludes mechanized harvesting. Cuphea is generally harvested by hand at present. Technology which would allow the cultivation and harvesting of Cuphea using modern agricultural methods and equipment would have the potential to create a new high-value oil-seed crop of major industrial importance.
In the control of shattering generally substantial losses of yield occur every year from premature seed dispersal so delaying or halting seed release could allow for much greater seed recovery to boost yields. In the case of Cuphea bearing this transgene this invention creates a new crop plant for the production of medium-chain fatty acids. This technology has the added advantage of increasing seed size as well as delaying or preventing natural pod shattering. Shatter-resistant transgenic Cuphea may provide an important new source of income for Third World countries where it is currently harvested by hand on a small scale.