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3900 Trends in Biosciences 8 (15), 2015
Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Importance and its High Quality Seed
Oil: A Review
P. P. PUSADKAR, E. KOKILADEVI, S. V. BONDE, N. R. MOHITE
Department of Plant Biotechnology,
Centre for Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology,
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore-641003,
Trends in Biosciences 8(15), Print : ISSN 0974-8, 3900-3906, 2015
Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.; Pedaliaceae) is a
diploid (2n = 26) dicotyledonous and one of the oldest
oil seed crop which grown widely in tropical and
subtropical areas for its edible oil, proteins, vitamins,
and amino acids. Sesame as a valuable cover crop
grown for food (dry seeds), feed (seed, leaves and young
branches) beside these the other parts of plant are
also useful like flowers useful in treatment of cancer,
alopecia, and constipation, roots are having antifungal
activity and leaves are used in infant cholera,
diarrhoea, dysentery, and for urinary infections.
Beside of large land covered for cultivation of sesame
there is a wide demand–supply gap as its production
is constrained by various biotic and abiotic stresses
which leads to less productivity in terms of seed yield.
So attempts to be made for spreading awareness about
sesame its oil and other uses. Sesame oil has natural
antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamolin, and sesamol
known as the most stable vegetable oils having long
shelf life. Sesame seed oil, is rich in Omega 6 fatty
acids, but lacks Omega 3 fatty acids. So there is need
to produce more Omega 3 fatty acids like alpha
linolenic acids with the help of various desaturase
enzyme pathways for improvement of quality of sesame
oil as healthy oil.
Key words Sesame, feed, antifungal activity, Omega
3 fatty acids, desaturase, quality.
Sesame (SesamumindicumL.) is an ancient oil
yielding crop and popularly known as “Queen of
Oilseeds”. Sesame belongs to Tubiflorae order and
Pedaliaceae family (Nayar, 1984). The genus
Sesamum has 37 species, of which Sesamum
indicum L. is the dominant cultivated species.
Distribution of most of the species occurs in three
regions viz., Africa, India and the Far East
(Kobayashi et al., 1991). It is one of the ancient oil
seed crop originated in Africa. In production of
Sesame seeds Myanmar ranks first in producing
8, 61,573 T that of India ranks second in production
having 7, 69,000 T. In terms of area India ranks
first harvesting about 17, 80,000 Ha as that of
Myanmar having 15, 84,000 Ha. India enjoys the
paramount position for export of white seeded type
seeds which are in great demand. India is one of
the largest exporters of Sesame seeds exporting
between 3 to 4 MT of seeds annually. India is the
largest producer of Sesame covering 42 % of
world’s Sesame area and 27 per cent of the
production and nearly 7.4 % of the total area under
oilseeds in India. Sesame ranks third among the
oilseed crops in production. The top ten Sesame
growing countries by production of Sesame seeds
are Myanmar, India, China, Ethiopia, Nigeria,
Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Niger,
Burkina Faso and Somania. (FAOSTAT, 2011). The
composition of sesame possesses lipid contents
48gms, carbohydrates 25.7gms, proteins 17gms,
fiber 14gms and ash 6gms approximately with
respect to 100gm of seeds. Sesame seeds are rich
in minerals such as Calcium, Phosphorous,
Magnesium, and Potassium in large amounts and
also it is having vitamins such as Niacin, Thiamin,
Riboflavin and vitamin B-6 (USDA Nutrient
Sesame is also known as Gingelly and Sesame
in English, Tila and Snehphala in Ayurveda, Til and
Kunjad in Unani. Sesame is typically an erect branch
annual (occasionally perennial) 0.5-2 m in height
with a well-developedroot system. It is multi-
flowered, and its fruit is a capsule containing a
number of small oleaginous (oily) seeds. Sesame
seeds are very small in size and are 4mm long 2mm
wide and 1mm thick. They are pearl shaped, ovate,
small, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at
PUSADKAR et al., Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Importance and its High Quality Seed Oil: A Review 3901
the hilum. The varieties and strains differ
considerably in size,form,growth,flower colour,
seed size,colourand composition.
The productivity of Sesame in India is very
low of about 432 Kg/ha against the yield potential
of 2000 Kg/ha. Despite the potential for increasing
the production and productivity of Sesame there
are a number of challenges inhibiting Sesame
production and productivity. Among the many
production constraints, most important include lack
of improved cultivars and a poor seed supply
system, is very much restricted to poor soil due to
several constraints such as low and unreliable yield,
shattering, high production cost and lower return
to the farmers (Murthy et. al., 1985). It is also
having nutritional disorders such as Manganese
deficiency in which Leaves develop interveinal
chlorosis, chlorotic tissue, later developlight brown
or husk coloured necrotic lesions also having Zinc
deficiency in which middle leaves develop chlorosis
in the interveinal areas and necrosis along the apical
leaf margins. There is increasing evidence that the
uses of poor management practices (especially the
practice of low seed rate) as well as traditional
cultivars are the main yield limiting factors in
Sesame farms of sandy dunes in North Kordofan
of Sudan. The increasing seed rate significantly
decreased the number of capsules per plant and
seed yield per plant. Seed rates of 1.5 and 2.0 kg
ha-1 were optimum to maximizing seed yield per
unit area (Ahmed et al., 2012). The yield potential
of Sesame is very low when compared with major
oil seed crops due to early senescence and extreme
susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stress factors
including photosensitivity (Raoet al.,
2002).Introgression of useful genes from wild
species into cultivars via conventional breeding has
not been successful due to post fertilization barriers.
An interdisciplinary concerted effort with the
participation of both conventional breeding
technique and biotechnology is urgently required
for genetic improvement of Sesame. Wild species
of Sesame possess genes for resistance to biotic
and abiotic stresses (Joshi, 1961; Weiss, 1971; Brar
and Ahuja, 1979; Kolte, 1985). The only option left
for improvement of Sesame is to transfer genes
from other sources through genetic transformation
Sesame importance: About 70 % of the World’s
Sesame seed is processed into oil and meal. Total
annual consumption is about 65 % for oil extraction
and 35 % for food. The meal left after oil extraction
contains 35-50 % proteins which make a rich feed
for poultry and livestock. Several industrial uses
have been identified in Sesame. African people have
used Sesame to prepare perfumes and cologne that
has been made from Sesame flowers. Sesamin has
bactericide and insecticide activities and it also acts
as an antioxidant which can inhibit the absorption
of cholesterol and the production of cholesterol in
the liver. Sesamolin also has insecticidal properties
and is used as a synergist for pyrethrum insecticides
(Simon et al., 1984).
The Sesame oil which has been traditionally
used for cooking and as a flavour additive in food
products of Asian and Western countries (Pastorello
et al., 2001). Oil is used for both dietary and
therapeutic applications. Sesame seeds are
described as the “seeds of immortality” perhaps
for its resistance to oxidation and rancidity even
when stored at ambient air temperature (Bedigian
and Harlan, 1986). Antioxidant and anticancer
properties have been studied in Sesame seeds
(Osawaet al., 1990). Sesamin and sesamolin, two
unique phytoconstituents isolated from seeds,
possess excellent cholesterol-lowering effect in
humans and prevents high blood pressure. They
serve as a good source of copper, manganese and
calcium which are effective in reducing pain, in
osteoporosis and in reduction of swelling in
rheumatoid arthritis (Chakraborthy et al.,
2008).The defatted Sesame meal contains nearly
50 % protein and the seed hull contains large
quantities of oxalic acid and fibre (Abou-gharbiaet
al., 2000). Sesame oil contains Sesamin and
Sesamolin lignans in its non-glycerol fraction which
are known to play an important role in the oxidative
stability and antioxidative activity (Wu, 2007).
Sesame oil is used as a solvent, oleaginous
vehicle for drugs, skin softener and used in the
manufacture of margarine and soap. The oil is
mainly used in cooking, salad preparation and for
making margarine. It is also used in cosmetics
preparations, pharmaceutical products, paints and
insecticides (Ashri, 1989). Chlorosesamone
3902 Trends in Biosciences 8 (15), 2015
obtained from roots of Sesame has antifungal
activity (Begum et al., 2000). Sesamin and
sesamolin were reported to increase both the hepatic
mitochondrial and the peroxisomal fatty acid
oxidation rate. Sesame seed consumption appears
to increase plasma gamma-tocopherol and enhanced
vitamin-E activity which are believed to prevent
cancer and heart disease (Cooney et al., 2001).
Sesame oil is a pharmaceutic aid used as a solvent
for intramuscular injections and has nutritive,
demulcent and emollient properties (Tyler et al.,
1976) and it is used as a laxative. Sesame oil is
used as an antibacterial mouthwash.Sesame seed
is used on bread, buns, cookies, health snacks and
as an additive to breakfast cereal mixers. The seed
may be eaten whole either raw and roasted and
salted, or mixed with lemon and honey but are often
ground into paste which may often be sweetened
Oil content and Fatty acid composition in
Sesame seeds:It was a highly priced oilseed in
the ancient world because of its resistance to
drought, the ease to extract oil from seeds and the
high stability of oil (Langham and Wiemers, 2002).
Sesame is one of the world’s most important oil
seed crops due to its relative superior oil quantity,
having oil content generally over 50 per cent
(Yermanoset al., 1972). Vegetable oils and fats
constitute an important component of human diet,
ranking third after cereals and animal products. Oil
forms the basic cooking medium for majority of
dishes, especially of Indian cuisine and enhances
the taste of these preparations also seeds have long
been considered a very popular health food in Asian
countries. The per capita recommended oils and
fats is 30 g per day but their availability in India is
despairingly below this level. Sesame oil
consumption meet demand of adequate amount of
essential fatty acids that is important for normal
growth and development. This underlines the need
for a concerted effort to enhance the oil production.
Sesame seed oil has excellent stability due to natural
antioxidants such as sesamolin, sesamin and
sesamol (Brar and Ahuja, 1979; Ashri, 1987).
Sesame has relatively superior oil quantity as well
as quality in comparison to many major oil crops.
The oil content ranges from 34.4 % to 59.8 % but
is mostly about 50 % of seed weight (Ashri, 1989,
1998). Values of up to 63.2 % have been reported
in some varieties (Bayder et al., 1999). Both
genetic and environmental factors influence the oil
content in Sesame. Late maturing cultivars are
reported to have high oil contents ones than early.
Variations also occurs between capsules at different
position on the same plant, such that the seeds from
the basal capsules on the main stem contains more
oil than those located towards the apex and on side
branches (Mosjidis and Yermanos, 1985) black
seeded cultivars often have lower oil content than
brown and white ones, indicating a possible linkage
between oil content and seed coat colour. Black
seed coats are usually thicker than lighter coloured
ones. Sesame seed has high amount of methionine.
Seed is an important source of protein also rich in
thiamine and niacin is used for industrial purposes
(Ashri, 1998). Sesame oil is a pale yellow odourless
oily liquid with a bland taste and it is a good source
of edible gourmet oil (Namiki, 1995).
The Sesame genus has limited variability in
the seed fatty acid proportions (Kamal-Eldinet al.,
1994). The seed fatty acid composition varies
considerably among the different cultivars of
Sesame worldwide (Yermanoset al., 1972; Brar,
1982; Baydar, Turget and Turget, 1999). The oil
contain four major fatty acids namely palmitic,
stearic, oleic and linoleic acid along with small
quantities of vaccenic, linoleic, arachidic, behenic
and eicosenoic acids (Weiss, 1983; Kamal-Eldin et
al., 1992; Ashri, 1998; Were et al., 2001). Oleic
and linoleic acids are nearly in equal amount,
constituting about 85 % of the total fatty
acids.Cultivars with exceptionally high (e”60 %)
oleic or linoleic acid are rare (Bayder et al., 1999).
It is found that stearic, oleic and linoleic acids
content differs between determinate and
indeterminate cultivars. Determinate cultivars
generally have higher stearic and oleic acids, and
lower linoleic acid compared to indeterminate ones.
Capsule position on the plant also affects the relative
quantities of the fatty acids palmitic, stearic and
oleic acids tend to increase up the stem while linoleic
acid decreases (Brar, 1977). The fatty acid
composition is strongly influenced by environmental
factors. Linoleic acids content has been reported
to increase under cool growing conditions (Uzun
et al., 2002). The peroxide Value and Free Acidity
increased during storage for five weeks. The iodine
value of the Sesame seeds oil decreases as it was
PUSADKAR et al., Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Importance and its High Quality Seed Oil: A Review 3903
roasted over a period of storage. This suggests the
loss of unsaturation in the fatty acids of the
triacylglycerol. The antioxidant factors responsible
for the stability of roasted Sesame seeds is highly
affected by the conditions of the roasting process
(Hassan, 2013). The extraction of Sesame oil is
done by using three extraction techniques
supercritical fluid extraction, Soxhlet and sequential
extraction (Carvalhoet al., 2012). The Sesame seed
extracts possess high antioxidant activity and that
the white varieties elicit better antioxidant activity
than the black one (Vishwanathet al., 2012).
Sesame seeds had an average of 0.63 % lignans,
making them a rich source of dietary lignans
Modification of fatty acid composition in plant
storage oils:Plant tissue culture plays a significant
role for the enrichment of genetic variability giving
rise to variations/mutations at an unexpectedly high
rate and may be a novel source of genetic variability
in many plant species (Scowcroft et al., 1987).
They have multiple physiological functions such
as decreasing arachidonic acid levels (Shimizu et
al., 1991) and blood lipids (Hirata et al., 1996).
Sesame oil contains a class of unusual compounds
known as lignans, comprised of sesamin,
sesamolin, a small amount of sesamol (Namiki,
1995), á-tocopherol bioavailability (Lemcke-
Norojarvi et al., 2001), increasing anti-oxidative
ability (Hemalatha, 2004), providing anti-
inflammatory function (Hsu et al., 2005;
Utsunomiya et al., 2000) and estrogenic activity
(Coulman et al., 2005; Penalvo et al., 2005; Wu et
al., 2006) also known to have a cholesterol
lowering effect in humans and to prevent high blood
The major edible oils contain predominantly
unsaturated 18 carbon fatty acids and palmitic acid
a 16 carbon fatty acid. Key target for modification
of these oils both for edible and industrial uses have
been identified (Murphy, 1999). One goal for
modification of these oils for edible use is to
increase the amount of palmitic and stearic acids
in order to minimise the need of hydrogenation in
the production of dietary fats. Another important
target is to increase stability of oils, achieved by
reducing their levels of unsaturated fatty acids
especially linolenic acids. However linoleic and
linolenic acids are essential to man and needs to be
kept at essentially high levels in dietary fats. The
effect of boiling improved the crude fat (49.23 to
56.78 %) and calcium content (757.13 to 975.54
mg/100 g). However, boiling caused a significant
reduction in levels of protein (18.87 to 14.12 %),
fiber (6.17 to 4.45 %) and potassium (831.47 to
727.42 mg/100 g) while iron levels were
unchanged. The total phenolics levels of the raw
Sesame seeds (0.15 mg/g) showed a remarkable
increase as the boiling time was increased to 30
min with a level of 0.35 mg/g. In addition, boiling
caused a significant increase in the total flavonoid
levels from 0.22 mg/g to 0.55 mg/g while a
decrease in the vitamin C content of raw Sesame
seeds was observed within the period of boiling.
Furthermore, the aqueous extracts of boiled Sesame
seeds exhibited greater antioxidant properties than
that of the raw seeds (Adeniyanet al., 2013).
In case of plant industrial oil, there is a wide
range of fatty acids of interest including many from
wild species that remain a target for commercial
production in transgenic crops. Examples of such
fatty acids include lauric, petroselinic, ricinoleic,
vernolic and ã-linolenic acids. There has been some
success with a few of these in oilseed Rape and
Soybean but there remain needs to increase quantity
of the specific fatty acid for crop effective use of
the modified crops. With a better understanding of
the biosynthetic pathway for uncommon fatty acid
it will be possible to achieve this in the major oil
crops. Considering that conventional Sesame oil is
beneficial to human health, it seems appropriate that
further improvement of quality should focus on
producing oils with new dietary, cosmetic,
pharmaceutical and nutraceutical uses.
An important requirement for genetic
modification of oil composition is the availability
of a strongly expressed seed specific promoter.
Besides, the promoter should display correct
temporal expression of the introduced genes since
the synthesis of various storage products is
developmentally regulated. In Sesame fatty acid
synthesis begins early (9 days after fertilisation)
during seed development (Chung et al., 1995) and
therefore a late expressing promoter would be
unsuitable. Promoters seed expressed Ä 9 and Ä
12-desaturase genes have been cloned and their
expression pattern characterized (Yukawa et al.,
1996). These promoters are strong and turn on at
3904 Trends in Biosciences 8 (15), 2015
the onset of lipid biosynthesis, making them ideal
candidates for future use in the engineering of
Sesame oil composition.
For metabolic engineering of oil quality
improvement, fatty acid composition and enzymes
involved are very important so we can reduce
expression of endogenous enzymes by adding new
enzyme, overexpressing existing enzyme and by
using antisense RNA. It is proved that genes for
membrane-bound fatty acid-modifying enzymes not
only from plants but also from bacterial, animal,
yeast have been shown to function in transgenic
plants. The enzymes such as Fatty acid synthase,
Thioesterases, Elongases, Desaturases, Stearoyl-
ACPDesaturase, Ä12-Desaturase, Ä15-Desaturase,
Acyl transferases and Hydroxylases are important
in fatty acid manipulation. Suppression of the
oleateÄ12-desaturase gene (which normally
converts 18:1 to 18:2) in Soybean, Sunflower,
Cotton and Canola has resulted in the production
of oils with a high oleic acid content, which have
greater oxidative stability and improved
performance in high-temperature cooking
applications. (Metzger and Bornscheuer 2006).
In response to ever increasing world demand
of sesame seeds and its oil it is imperative that
sesame seeds should be increased production in
India. The enough scope exists for increasing area
as well as productivity of sesame. Sesame being a
number one oilseed in the world due to high
nutritional oil through Sesame area in India is more
as that of other countries the productivity is far
less as sesame can be grown in marginal wastelands
due to its ability to adapt to adverseagro climatic
conditions.VLC-PUFAs are found in many food
applications, including infant formulas, adult dietary
supplements, animal feed and food additives, and
are used as precursors for the production of
pharmaceuticals. The increase in percentage of
Omega 3 fatty acids instead of Omega 6 fatty acids
might be possible by using enzymes such as
desaturase which can be further helps to improve
quality of oil.
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Received on 16-07-2015 Accepted on 20-07-2015