Sequencing of Jatropha Genome Could Lead to Higher Biofuel Yields

SG Biofuels' Genetic Resource Center
At its Genetic Resource Center, SG Biofuels has assembled the world’s largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material.
SG Biofuels, Inc.

Life Technologies Corporation, a provider of innovative life science solutions and SG Biofuels, Inc., a bioenergy crop company, have completed sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome to 100x coverage, using the SOLiD 4.0 System by Life Technologies. The sequence significantly accelerates the identification of key traits for the oilseed-producing crop and advances its development as a high yielding, low-cost source for next generation biofuel.

Working in strategic alliance with Life Technologies, SG Biofuels will use the sequence to generate a high quality Jatropha reference genome. The genome will be compared to sequences generated from SG Biofuels’ germplasm library of more than 6,000 unique Jatropha genotypes – the largest and most diverse collection of Jatropha germplasm in the world – to identify molecular markers and trait genes to accelerate development of elite cultivars with vastly superior yields and profitability. This work will also advance the introduction of transgenic plants with further improved traits.

Jatropha curcas is a non-edible shrub that is native to Central America. Its seeds contain high amounts of oil that can be used for a variety of bio-based materials including feedstock substitutes for the diesel, petrochemical, and jet fuel industries. It can be effectively grown on marginal lands that are considered undesirable for food crops, making it a viable option as a new biofuel.

“Working with SG Biofuels to sequence the Jatropha genome is an important part of our broader synthetic biology strategy to provide technologies for the development of next generation renewable energy,” said Wendy Jozsi, Director of Synthetic Biology at Life Technologies. “There is significant opportunity to use advanced molecular techniques in the optimization of plant-based biofuels, especially Jatropha, for increased yields and a faster development cycle, ultimately leading to new sources of energy.”

In addition to extensive phenotypic diversity, preliminary molecular marker studies illustrate that SG Biofuels Jatropha germplasm collection exhibits approximately 10 times the genetic diversity observed in a collection of Jatropha from India, Africa, and Asia (Basha et al 2009).

“The value of a Jatropha reference genome is enhanced significantly by having a diverse collection of plant material for comparison,” said Kirk Haney, President and Chief Executive Officer of SG Biofuels. “The sequence adds a powerful new tool to our development platform, allowing us to rapidly unlock the true potential of Jatropha as the most profitable and sustainable biofuel feedstock.”

SG Biofuels’ integrated breeding and biotechnology approach forms the foundation for its JMax Jatropha Optimization Platform, providing research agencies, growers and plantation developers with access to the company’s germplasm library, the reference genome, molecular markers and advanced biotech and synthetic biology tools to optimize elite Jatropha cultivars for unique growing conditions around the world.

About SG Biofuels

SG Biofuels is a bioenergy crop company using breeding and biotechnology to develop and produce elite seeds of Jatropha. With the largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material, SG Biofuels is turning the opportunities of Jatropha into reality through a world-class leadership team, leading-edge science and genetics and expertise in agronomy and plantation management. SG Biofuels has been named one of the Top 50 Companies in Bioenergy by Biofuels Digest and one of the Top 100 Emerging Cleantech Companies by Always On.

About Life Technologies

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) is a global biotechnology tools company dedicated to improving the human condition. The company’s systems, consumables and services enable researchers to accelerate scientific exploration, driving to discoveries and developments that make life even better. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance personalized medicine, regenerative science, molecular diagnostics, agricultural and environmental research, and 21st century forensics. Life Technologies had sales of $3.3 billion in 2009, employs approximately 9,000 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries, and possesses a rapidly growing intellectual property estate of approximately 3,900 patents and exclusive licenses. Life Technologies was created by the combination of Invitrogen Corporation and Applied Biosystems Inc., and manufactures both in-vitro diagnostic products and research use only-labeled products.

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