Tag Archives: jatropha development

Interspecific BC1 Jatropha hybrid

The Bionic Jatropha Breeding Platform in 2013

We have already passed the first half of February of this year, so this article is overdue, if we want to make this kind of posting a tradition. See last years version here: The Bionic Jatropha Breeding Program in 2012.

First of all let’s summarize some 2012 highlights one last time:

Interspecific BC1 Jatropha hybrid

Interspecific BC1 Jatropha hybrid

In December we have reached the BC2 stage following our interspecific breeding path. The first batch of BC2s are all descendants of an early and white flowering BC1, the female parent of which is in turn our non-toxic, male-sterile Jatropha plant from the wild in Guatemala. The pollen donor was an interspecific hybrid crossed from an elite toxic JcL cultivar and Jatropha integerrima. Many more genetically diverse BC2 hybrids will follow over the course of this year as our large population of different BC1s gradually start flowering. Some actually have done so by now.

Quite unexpectedly earlier in 2012 we observed enormous heterosis effects (hybrid vigor) in several different intraspecific hybrids we had kind of neglected. Some increasing seed weight compared to their parents by up to 100%. A finding which made us gravely rethink and adjust our breeding processes and objectives. Later we then saw heterosis again in another hybrid with fruit clusters consistently around 50 fruits and seed weight still significantly above the parental average. All three of those hybrids initiated flowering only 6 months after seed germination. These plants actually convinced us that consistent seed yields of 10 kg and more are within reach. We do expect to see a lot more of positive heterosis results as we only started to fully exploit our germplasm collection by crossing our genetically most distant accessions in the late months of 2012.

Two more areas are worth mentioning where we expanded our knowledge of Jatropha development significantly during 2012, possibly taking us to a global leadership position in Jatropha R&D: Grafting and multi species (more than 2) Jatropha hybridization. We have made great progress on both work streams and do expect major break-throughs to be reported by the end of this year.

BC1: 7.10xH1.1

Unusual Jatropha flowers on a hybrid BC1

The walk through of our 2012 results actually already covers most of the outlook for 2013: our interspecific hybrids will most likely reach BC4 stage moving closer to possible commercial exploitation through selection from a widening population and dedicated heterosis breeding will teach us all we need to know to develop a first line of F1 hybrids in 2014 from our germplasm range.

The first 6 weeks of 2013 gave us an extra boost in confidence looking at the great developments we saw in the usually not very eventful core dry season here in Ghana. This is symbolized by the beautiful flowers on the left, another BC1 which set flowers for the first time in January which were manually pollinated and emerged into 4 fast growing fruits by now.

Jatropha, a plant with a future – new report from Hardman&Co

Its report season… another one on Jatropha has just been published. Actually this one I had awaited for several months. Finally it has been released today. They titled it “Jatropha – Plant with a future” and it has been released by Hardman&Co, a UK based corporate research specialist for the financial industry. The PDF can be downloaded here or directly at their website.

After their excellent last report on Jatropha investment expectations were running high for this latest edition focusing exclusively on the development of improved Jatropha planting material. However, I find myself a little disappointed as this report mainly focuses on a handful of well known developers and obviously their response to telephone interviews. While the information contained is definitely interesting and well researched, I miss a more independent assessment of the actual development status and the possible paths forward for the evolving industry.

My disappointment was even greater when I realized that the huge global scene of independent developers have not been mentioned with one word. I have been watching the handful “incumbent” organisations mentioned in the report over the years and I don’t believe any of them will deliver the break trough developments the industry is desperately waiting for. Instead, I expect a lot more from the loosely connected modern networks which are working on Jatropha around the globe. What I see is somewhat similar to modern open-source software development. We are an active member of this scene.

Admittedly it is more difficult to explore that parallel universe of Jatropha development, because proper research requires a lot more insight into the subject itself. But it is also the only way to figure out and report what’s really going on in Jatropha development  Therefore I am seriously contemplating about sitting down for a couple of days myself to complement this report with a second one from the independent networked Jatropha development domain.

Actually, it’s the main purpose of this very website too to share more information about Jatropha development when it becomes available. So after reading the report please come back here and let’s discuss some of the “facts”:

For example, the world market price of soybean meal is not USD 300 (as claimed in the report) but actually over USD 450 per metric ton.

Or why is it, that we have announced, improved, high yielding planting material can be made available to any project within 18-24 months via our localized client site breeding services? The report says it will take to the end of the decade for improved material to become widely available! An unacceptable timeline for anyone interested in Jatropha farming today.