This invention relates to plant fatty acyl hydroxylases. Methods to use conserved amino acid or nucleotide sequences to obtain plant fatty acyl hydroxylases are described. Also described is the use of cDNA clones encoding a plant hydroxylase to produce a family of hydroxylated fatty acids in transgenic plants. In addition, the use of genes encoding fatty acid hydroxylases or desaturases to alter the level of lipid fatty acid unsaturation in transgenic plants is described.
 The invention described herein was made in the course of work under grant number DE-FG02-94ER20133 from the U.S. Department of Energy and grant No. MCB9305269 from the National Science Foundation. Therefore, the U.S. Government has certain rights under this invention.