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January 18, 2010

Efforts underway to sequence jatropha genome

SG Biofuels, a plant science company, has joined forces with Life Technologies Corporation, a provider of innovative life science solutions, to advance the development of Jatropha as a sustainable biofuel.

The alliance brings together SG Biofuels' Genetic Resource Center, featuring the largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material in the world, with the advanced biotechnology and synthetic biology tools of Life Technologies.

The partnership will initially include sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome, allowing for the rapid introduction of new traits targeted toward increasing the yield of the oil-producing plant. Life Technologies will also become a strategic partner in SG Biofuels.

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 biodiesel and feedstock substitutes for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries. It can be effectively grown on marginal lands that are considered undesirable for other crops.

"By combining our library of Jatropha DNA with the extensive genetic expertise and resources of Life Technologies, we have the opportunity to unlock the true potential of Jatropha as the most profitable and sustainable biofuel feedstock," said Kirk Haney, President and Chief Executive Officer of SG Biofuels.
"Sequencing the genome will allow us to rapidly develop region-specific cultivars from the promising traits we've already identified."

SG Biofuels' team of genetic scientists, led by Dr. Robert Schmidt, includes three members of the National Academy of Sciences. 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.

The Bioenergy Site

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