Jatropha as a Source of Biofuel

Remembering to the first day of class, Dr. Wolverton briefly mentioned the global interest in jatropha, an oil seed crop that is resistant to drought and pests.  Jatropha is native to South America and  is currently widely distributed in South and Central America, Africa and Asia.  Although promising,  major constraints limiting large-scale profitable cultivation are low and inconstant yields due to the non-availability of quality germplasm and proper agronomic
practices.  Additionally, they make clear that Jatropa has a rather toxic nature, possessing a high content of phorbol esters. The presence of which makes it unsuitable for livestock consumption despite the high protein and nutrition content in the seed.  Thus, the article suggests that improvement in Jatropha should concentrate on enhancing and
stabilizing Jatropha productivity in various production systems, and on improving the quality of oil and seed meal for diversified utilisation.  Similarly, the authors found the genetic diversity of Jatropa curas was limited; they explained the immediate need for genetic enhancement of Jatropha, which could perhaps attract more studies.  The paper articulates that identification of genotypes capable of ensuring both profitable yield and wide genetic variability will be a challenging task requiring a complete set of information in order to understand how a given phenotype is
constituted at the molecular, biochemical, reproductive and agronomic level.  As such, this paper concludes by making clear the dire need for a rapid identification of molecular and metabolic markers that can define a specific phenotype for the constitution of new, improved seed populations.  Finally, biochemical markers that can distinguish between the toxic and non-toxic accessions will be quite useful for  selection and assisted breeding towards the production of Jatropa varieties with low or null phorbol esters.

The Complex Nature of Jatropa curas.

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