Singapore partnership develops GM jatropha with high oleic acid

By JOil Pte. Ltd. | May 17, 2012

Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory and JOil Pte. Ltd. have successfully developed genetically modified jatropha plants with high oleic acid content in seeds.

“Oleic acid is the most desirable oil component for the purpose of biofuel, it gives the best balance between cold flow property and oxidation stability,” said YE Jian, the team leader of the group of scientists that developed this. “We managed to achieve greater than 75 percent seed oleic acid content, much higher than the 45 percent in regular seeds, through specifically down-regulating a jatropha gene in a seed-specific manner.”

This work has just been published online by Biotechnology for Biofuels. Being the exclusive commercial partner, JOil is expected to further develop varieties with this trait for commercialization.

Prof. Chua Nam-Hai, chairman of JOil’s scientific research steering committee, said, “For bioenergy plants like jatropha curcas, genetic modification will be important to introduce those desirable traits that are difficult to achieve through traditional breeding. With the availability of various platform technologies and good understanding of genes responsible for various traits, we can introduce many desirable traits into jatropha, such as better drought tolerance and better pathogen/insect tolerance.”

Being a global player in jatropha breeding and commercialization, JOil looks forward to contribution by GM jatropha varieties to its business in the medium to long term. “We are now focusing on traditional breeding to bring up jatropha seed productivity to enable commercial plantation,” said Hong Yan, chief scientific officer of JOil. “GM technology will bring more value adding traits to our elite varieties in the future.”

Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory is a nonprofit organization established in 2002 to undertake cutting-edge research in molecular biology and genetics utilizing a broad range of model organisms. It is affiliated to the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. Its vision is to create an environment that can attract the brightest young minds worldwide, support their research and challenge them to be leaders in their own fields.

Headquartered in Singapore, JOil is a joint venture company incorporated by Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory Ltd., Tata Chemicals (through its wholly owned subsidiary, Tata Chemicals Asia Pacific Pte Ltd), Toyota Tsusho Corp. and other investors in 2008. Its main business activities include the development, propagation and sale of elite jatropha seedlings and improved genetically-modified seedlings for commercial cultivation as well as to engage in agronomy research and provision of agronomy advisory. It has operations in India, Indonesia, China, Kenya, Thailand and the Philippines. In 2011, JOil completed the acquisition of PT Monfori Nusantara, a leading tissue culture facility in Indonesia. JOil is an active member of Jatropha Working Group of Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels, and is committed to ensuring sustainability.



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