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September 19, 2010

Sequence of jatropha genome completed for biofuel generation

Life Technologies Corporation, a provider of life science solutions, and SG Biofuels, Inc., a bioenergy crop company, announced that they have completed sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome to 100x coverage, using technology by Life Technologies.

The sequence 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.

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 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.

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.

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