Source: PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
IMPROVEMENT OF JATROPHA CURCAS AS A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CROP BY APPLICATION OF MOLECULAR GENETICS AND PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0213440
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
PEN04238
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jan 1, 2008
Project End Date
Dec 31, 2010
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Guiltinan, M. J.
Recipient Organization
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
208 MUELLER LABORATORY
UNIVERSITY PARK,PA 16802
Performing Department
HORTICULTURE
Non Technical Summary
Global warming, population growth, environmental degradation and food production are serious concerns to the well being of mankind and our planet. Development of sustainable energy resources is an essential component to the solution of many of these problems. Energy production systems of the future must depend less on petroleum-based reserves and more on alternative energy systems such as geothermal, wind, solar and Bioenergy. Of these, Bioenergy holds the greatest promise to contribute significantly to reduced petroleum consumption and CO2 emissions. Currently most Biofuels are made from either carbohydrate -based feedstock (sugar, starch, cellulose), or oil-based feedstock. Biodiesel can be produced from oils of many plants including rapeseed, sunflower, soybean, maize, oil palm, and Jatropha. However, the use of agricultural plants such as corn and soybean as feedstock for large-scale biofuel production would conflict with food production and competes for agrochemical inputs, which would in turn cause food scarcity and increase in prices due to supply/demand economics. For truly sustainable Biodiesel production in large scales, plant species capable of growing in marginal lands and which could prosper with minimum agricultural inputs would be needed. Such species should be easy to grow and propagate, would have high oil yield, and their cultivation should be environmentally beneficial or neutral. One plant species, Jatropha curcas L., fulfills many of these characteristics and thus has captured world interest as may be the most desirable Biodiesel feedstock plant. Jatropha curcas L., (family Euphorbiaceae) is a tropical shrub indigenous to the Americas (Brazil and Mexico) that can be grown in marginal lands, including relatively dry and saline soils. Jatropha seed oil content is estimated to be 4 and 10 times higher than soy and corn, respectively. Currently, very large Jatropha plantations are being established in India, China, Brazil, Central America, Indonesia and Africa. Future projections of plantings by government and industrial plantations exceed seventy million hectares over the next 5 years, a true "Jatropha Gold Rush". The large-scale cultivation of Jatropha will face many different challenges and competing interests. Propagation of elite Jatropha genotypes on such large scale is a production challenge in itself. Furthermore, for optimum performance, the Jatropha crops will require agricultural inputs such as water, fertilizers and agrochemicals. Without thoughtful geospatial planning, Jatropha plantations could promote deforestation of important biodiversity areas. Successful domestication of Jatropha as a crop plant and development of cultivars with desirable characteristics such as high oil yield and quality, disease and insect resistance and abiotic stress tolerance could potentially result in a formidable source of Bioenergy. This project will utilize the modern tools of genetics, genomics and biotechnology to facilitate development of a comprehensive research program for directed Jatropha crop improvement.
Animal Health Component
80%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
20%
Applied
80%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
2011899104050%
2011899108050%
Goals / Objectives
A three-year research project is proposed to establish a world-class comprehensive program for Jatropha improvement. Results of this research will include varieties of Jatropha with increased yields and high quality oils. Other traits of agronomic value such as drought and cold tolerance, reduced toxin productions etc. will also be improved. High capacity Jatropha propagation systems will be developed and implemented at sites of large-scale planting in the field. We will also produce GM Jatropha, with high value traits, adapted to various local conditions. The molecular structure of Jatropha oil will be tailored by modifying the oil biosynthesis genes. This will make possible varieties of Jatropha that make oil with better combustion characteristics or that are cheaper to process. OUTPUTS AND TIMELINE 1. EST Database (by month 3) a. Will contain partial DNA sequences of a large number of Jatropha genes (approx. 20,000 genes) 2. Molecular Marker Development (by month 12) a. Several hundred SNP and SSR markers will be identified and tested on the two parental genotypes to find those that are polymorphic 3. Candidate genes for oil biosynthesis, drought resistance, pest and pathogen resistance identified (by month 18) 4. Full length genes isolated and sequenced for most important candidate genes (by month 24) 5. Genetic Diversity Study completed (by months 24-30: requires access to DNA from large collection of Jatropha from Indonesia and elsewhere) 6. Mapping population established (by months 8-12) 7. Strategies for development of breeding populations are designed and implemented (continuous) 8. Molecular Genetic Map established (by month 24) 9. Phenotype data collection (starting month 16 - continuous) 10. QTLs for drought and specific yield components identified (months 24-36 continuous) 11. Rooted cutting system optimized (by month 3 to 6-continuous improvement) 12. In vitro propagation system developed (by month 4 to 8) 13. Establishment of field test of in vitro-derived plants (by month 12) 14. Design of infrastructure for field propagation systems in Indonesia (nursery and tissue culture lab) (by month 12) 15. Rooted cuttings propagation systems transferred to Indonesia (by month 6 to 8) 16. In vitro propagation systems transferred to Indonesia (by month 15) 17. Development of genetic transformation system (by month 24) 18. Production of first generation transgenic plants with improved traits (by month 30, assumes IP right to operate negotiable) 19. First tests of first generation transgenic plants in Indonesia (by month 36)
Project Methods
I. Jatropha Jumpstart: Genomics Database Development The objective of this project will be to rapidly develop a genomics database for Jatropha. The database will be of immediate value as a source of SSR and SNP markers for genetic mapping (see below). II. Gene Discovery: Focus on Key Metabolic Pathways The Jatropha Db (JDb) will be mined using bioinformatics to discover genes of particular interest. We will make use of the genome knowledge of other plant species to guide our work. Using this approach (Translational Genomics) we will quickly identify many candidate genes of interest. For genes of particular interest, detailed characterization projects will be carried out which will require detailed molecular cloning studies. In the future, when the Jatropha genome is sequenced, we will carry these projects out mainly via bioinformatics. Each gene we study will be incorporated into the Jatropha Db where we will build "Gene Models". We will also house freezer bank of DNA clones containing the key candidate genes. III. Propagation Systems for Jatropha curcas: In vitro and in Nursery Propagation of elite Jatropha germplasm in large enough quantities for large scale planting is of primary importance at the immediate present. We will establish a multi-faceted research program aimed at developing both in vitro and nursery based propagation systems for Jatropha. These systems will be optimized then combined, to form an integrated approach to Jatropha propagation.IV. Comprehensive Jatropha Breeding Program IV. We will develop a comprehensive breeding program that will make use of both conventional breeding approaches and incorporate molecular-genetic approaches to accelerate the development of elite genotypes of Jatropha with high-yield, desirable agronomic traits and with altered oil quality. V. Genetic Engineering: GM Jatropha of the Future We will develop a method to routinely genetically transform Jatropha. Once the system is established, we will begin creating and testing gene modules for engineering of Jatropha metabolism. We will develop strains of Jatropha carrying transgenes of potential interest such as genes for pest and disease resistance, oil modification, herbicide resistance, sterility factors, toxin production, and gene regulating responses to drought and cold. It will be essential to begin negotiate with the IP holders that control transgenic plant technology, primarily Monsanto. It is likely that these negotiations will require a long period of time. Project Reviews and Progress Reports In addition to frequent communications between the collaborating partners of this project via email, phone and teleconferencing, we will also hold regular formalized review meetings. Quarterly program review meetings will be held either in person or via teleconferencing as agreed upon. Results will bedisseminated via peer reviewed publications.

Progress 01/01/08 to 12/31/10

Outputs
OUTPUTS: The main milestone of this proposal was met: Optimization of a method for genetic engineering of Jatropha and the ability to obtain at least 10 transgenic events per experiment. A secondary milestone was met; we have designed three transgene constructs for oil modification. These results were disseminated mainly in meetings with our industry partners. PARTICIPANTS: Mark Guiltinan, Siela Maximova, and Majid Foolad, Department of Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Now that we have a routine system for creating GE jatropha, we are in a position to move the project forward to improvement of oil and other traits. Current varieties of jatropha are virtually wild plants and unimproved. Having the ability to engineer traits using our new system will open the door to many different types of improvements that could be made to help improve the profitability of jatropha based energy farms. This is a radical change in the current status of jatropha varieties that will transform the industry. This work will have economic impact globally in countries that will grow and or consume biofuels. Many companies in the airline, car manufacturing, mining and transportation fuels industries are very interested in jatropha as a fuel source. We have made new industrial partners (Global Clean Energy, Los Angeles, CA and Barrick Gold Inc. of Toronto Canada) who are working with us to expand our project and will be providing matching funds for our renewal proposal. Our work together will help increase their capitalization potential, create new jobs, and increase the yields coming from jatropha farms. We are working together to launch a new non-profit Center for Jatropha research that will bring in funding from Federal and private sources to expand our goals of developing sustainable energy farms. This Center will bring funds and employment to PSU in the form of research projects and further enhance our impact on jatropha sustainability.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 10/01/08 to 09/30/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: This project involves developing biotechnology tools for Jatropha curcas. We have developed tissue culture systems for regeneration of jatropha plants in vitro. We have performed DNA sequencing of RNA from seeds and leaves and assembled a database of ESTs. From this we have identified potential SSR markers that can be used for genetic mapping. We have assembled a small collection of jatropha genotypes in our greenhouse. PARTICIPANTS: The work has involved Siela Maximova, and Majid Foolad, both faculty in the Dept. of Horticulture. We have involved the work of two technicians and part time work of two undergraduates. TARGET AUDIENCES: This work is targeted to assist the development of commercial farms in developing countries. We will impact the lives of farmers by increasing the yield of this species. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
We are working with industry partners to develop a field site. Our research will contribute to development of a crop improvement project at that site. So far, our work has not had significant impact as it is in its first years.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 10/01/07 to 09/30/08

Outputs
OUTPUTS: The major outputs of our work include developing the foundation for a crop improvement program for Jatropha. This includes developing a large EST database from which molecular markers can be derived, developing in vitro and greenhouse propagation methods for Jatropha and collecting diverse Jatropha germplasm. A secondary output of this work has been the training of several graduate and several postdoctoral researchers. We disseminate this work via publications, lectures, posters and seminars presented at major international conferences. PARTICIPANTS: Ann Young, Technician, Sharon Pishak, Technician, Rosalia Velasque, Visiting Scholar, Siela Maximova, Research Associate. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
This work will impact the biofuel industry and farmers in developing countries by contributing to efforts at increasing yields of biofuel feedstocks.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period