Jatropha plants that have been genetically modified (GM) to grow seeds with a high oleic acid content have been successfully developed in Singapore.
The project was a joint venture between global bioenergy company Joil and the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory.
‘Oleic acid is the most desirable oil component for the purpose of biofuel as it gives the best balance between cold flow property and oxidation stability,’ says Dr YE Jian, who led the team of scientists that developed the GM Jatropha. ‘We managed to achieve more than 75% seed oleic acid content, which is much higher than the 45% in regular seeds, through specifically down-regulating a Jatropha gene in a seed-specific manner.’
Joil will look to capitalise on this news in a commercial capacity by using GM Jatropha varieties throughout its business in the mid- to long-term.
‘We are now focusing on traditional breeding to bring Jatropha seed productivity up to enable commercial plantation. GM technology will add extra traits to our elite varieties in the future.’ says Dr Hong Yan, chief scientific officer at Joil.