Jatropha genome sequenced

By Luke Geiver
Posted Sept. 1, 2010

SG Biofuels Inc., a bioenergy crop developer, has partnered with Life Technologies Corp., a biotech tool provider, and the two have successfully sequenced the jatropha curcas genome. Using Life Technologies' genome tracker, the Solid 4.0 system, the two were able to sequence the genome and the results will allow SG Biofuels to accelerate the identification of key traits including enhanced fruit yield, pest resistance, soil adaptation, improved flowering capabilities, uniformity, and improved harvesting. Already using more than 6,000 jatropha genotypes from its germplasm library, the San Diego-based company will use the new findings to generate a high quality reference genome, according to a statement by SG Biofuels.

For Life Technologies, Wendy Jozsi, director of synthetic biology, said the work with the jatropha genome sequence will help develop the next generation of renewable energy, and that "there is significant opportunity to use advanced molecular techniques in the optimization of plant-based biofuels, especially jatropha."

SG Biofuels will use the findings to further its JMax Jatropha Optimization platform, which features a proprietary cultivar of Jatropha, the JMax 100, with yields 100 percent greater than existing varieties. The JMax 100 can also increase profitability to $1,000 greater per hectare, which equals more than 800 gallons per hectare. With more than three years of research put into jatropha at SG Biofuels' Genetic Resource Center, Kirk Haney, president and CEO said the new sequence adds a new tool to help "unlock the true potential of jatropha as the most profitable and sustainable biofuel feedstock."

Along with access to the germplasm library, those interested in participating in the JMax platform program will also have access to a plant science team that will help a grower or breeder optimize selection for specific regional growing conditions, including climatic and soil conditions.
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