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-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod3
Sent: 26 November 2008 09:25
To: 'biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 37: Re: Biotechnology applications for bioenergy: small-scale farmers

This is from Pablo Garcia Munoz, from Mexico, again.

Responding to message 32 by Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt:

My opinion is based on the outlook of what is happening in Mexico, practically without any biofuel production but in the sight of the big industries as a feedstock producer and as a germplasm supplier (like Jatropha, Rycinus and other species), but with no direction in bioenergy policy that is evident by the diverse actions of the involved ministries and different levels of government, which is reproduced by the scientific community.

What is very important is that Mexico (although belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD), like many other developing countries, has more than 25% of its population in rural areas without competitive alternatives (even without migration now with recession in the USA), so that's why I emphasize the intrinsic relationship between the kind of technological appliances and the development of smallholders as the goal of biofuel production when participating in solving the pollution problem in big cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey) through production and consumption of reformulated gasoline (RFG) with ethanol from biomass as oxygen additive, and of low and ultra-low sulphur diesel with biodiesel as blends. (About RFG, it is defined at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/rfg.htm : "Reformulated gasoline (known as "RFG") is gas blended to burn cleaner by reducing smog-forming and toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. The Clean Air Act requires that RFG be used in cities with the worst smog pollution to reduce harmful emissions that cause ground-level ozone. The law also specifies that RFG contain oxygen (2 percent by weight)." [*so does Mexican legislation NOM 086 ECOL 1994 and NOM-086-SEMARNAT-SENER-SCFI-2005]. "MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) and ethanol are the two most commonly used substances that add oxygen to gasoline. Oil companies decide which substance to use to meet the law's requirements.").

Pablo Garcia Munoz, M.Sc.
Ph.D. Student
Rural Sociology Department
Universidad Autonoma Chapingo
Km. 38.5 Carretera Mexico - Texcoco
C.P. 56230
52 595 952 16 27
Chapingo, Estado de Mexico.
pablogarciamunoz (at) gmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod3
Sent: 26 November 2008 10:36
To: 'biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 38: Re: Biotechnology applications and Jatropha curcas

This is from Prof. H.P.M. Gunasena. I am a Professor in Agriculture from the University of Peradeniya; current Chairman of the Asian Center for Underutilized Crops; also the former Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI); Distingushed Research Fellow of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) Regional office, New Delhi; and presently the Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, Sri Lanka.

The Government of Sri Lanka has accepted Jatropha as a potential crop for biodiesel production. There are several provenance trials which are being conducted by the NGOs and some by the Ministry of Environment. Five species are available in Sri Lanka, of which the best appears to be Jatropha curcas. The agronomic practices are being defined in recent trials. The major issue currently is the land, which appears to be a problem due to the conflicts with other crops like cashew, sugarcane. We have written a book on Jatropha which explains the details on the potential of this crop. Copies could be made available later after it is printed. This book is sponsored by ICRAF south Asia, based in New Delhi. We like to be partners in Jatropha develoment.

Our programme on Jatropha currently involves selection of provenances for different ecosystems. This is being undertaken by different groups, through collection of germplasm of jatropha and testing them out in potential areas. There is also a comprehensive research agenda extending from agronomic practices to harvesting, processing and storage, and then to distillation and blending.

In the crop improvement area, the use of tissue culture for rapid multiplication of superior germplasm is being attempted. This is being done by a university group, presently very preliminary. One major issue in Jatropha is crop improvement for high oil content and quality of oil. It is in this aspect that the biotechnologies will be very useful. The oil content and quality of oil has to be looked into using all potential provenances. Molecular breeding will be a very important area that should be pursued. Marker assisted selection would be ideal to identify and transfer traits that are useful, also as it does not involve gene transfer which may be controversial, even for an industrial crop like Jatropha.

Of course, conventional breeding is being done already in making hybrids. Hybrids are highly applicable, India has already made two hybrids which are in commercial use. They are high yielding with desirable tree form. We are also planning to organize a hybridization programme with the available provenances. The best approach in crop improvement will be to combine molecular breeding and conventional breeding. I also think that it may be desirable to sponsor a crop improvement programme using conventional and molecular methods for the Asia region with potential partners. It can be organized under the auspices of the FAO, cosidering bioenergy as an important area for the future for regional or global energy supplies (in spite of the low oil prices now). I could provide more information for the partners on this later.

Prof. H.P.M. Gunasena,
Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Services,
"Govijana Mandhiraya',
Sri Lanka
gunasenah (at) yahoo.com

[Participants in the e-mail conference might be interested to know that on 10-11 April 2008, the "International consultation on pro-poor Jatropha development" was held in Rome, Italy, jointly organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Foundation, FAO and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The consultation was designed to support the recently-approved research grant financed by IFAD, which, inter alia, aims to develop appropriate technologies to intensify biofuel feedstock production, study the economics of rural electrification and assess its impact on poverty. The consultation was organised in 11 sessions, one of which was dedicated to breeding, where applications of molecular markers were also discussed. Presentations and papers from the consultation are available on the web, at http://www.ifad.org/events/jatropha/index.htm - contact v.raswant (at) ifad.org for more information.

Also, Prof. Gunasena above discusses provenances and provenance trials: The term provenance refers to the geographic source of seed or plant material or to the plants from such a source. Often one of the first steps in the domestication of a new plant species is the establishment and analysis of provenance trials, as such trials may reveal whether plants with certain geographical origins are superior to others. See e.g. http://www.fao.org/docrep/93269e/93269e05.htm and http://en.sl.kvl.dk/dfsc/pdf/Publications/GTN_63_int.pdf ...Moderator].

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod3
Sent: 26 November 2008 13:19
To: 'biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 39: Re: Biotechnology applications and Jatropha curcas

I am Shashi Bhushan Tripathi, from New Delhi, India, again.

Jatropha and Pongamia are the two most widely pursued biodiesel species, especially in the developing countries. However, the basic information on the biology of these species has just started to arrive.

The center of origin of Jatropha is supposed to be Mexico and Central America. The concept of 'provenance' in Jatropha (especially when applied to Jatropha curcas germplasm from Asian countries) is highly misinterpreted. As rightly clarified by the Moderator in Message 38, the different 'provenances' are expected to be genetically diverse because of their apparently independent evolution with least or no gene flow from other 'provenances'. However, Jatropha curcas being an introduced species in this part of the world, we should not expect any provenance level organization. In fact, we conducted molecular genetic diversity analysis using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers on over 150 Jatropha curcas accessions from different regions of India which did not show any clustering (grouping) based on geographical affiliation of these accessions.

A major problem in Jatropha curcas germplasm of countries where it has been introduced (and these are the countries where it is pursued the most as a biodiesel crop) is its low genetic diversity, which could be either due to introduction of seeds from few genotypes or from geographical sources which are not the center of origin for Jatropha, or both. Therefore, the beginning of genetic improvement could start by bringing genetically diverse material from the center of origin and its performance evaluation under different agro-climatic conditions. The genetic diversity can be easily assessed using molecular marker techniques before starting the performance trials so that we do not end up wasting time in evaluating genetically similar accessions.

Besides introduction of new germplasm, other methods of creating genetic diversity such as interspecific hybridization and induced mutagenesis may be used. In India, several groups are working on interspecific hybridization and several promising genotypes are under various stages of field trials. Tissue culture based techniques, such as micropropagation and dihaploid production, could contribute substantially towards genetic improvement programs of Jatropha. Micropropagation could be especially useful during initial bulking up of a newly developed genotype so that enough nucleus planting material could be generated in a short time. Efficient anther culture protocols need to be developed and utilized to generate dihaploid lines from interspecific hybrids for utilization by breeders in hybridization programs.

Like any other crop, Jatropha too has several problems. Apart from seed yield and oil content, other desirable traits would be synchronous maturity, dwarf and compact tree form which need to be pyramided gradually. With time, we also expect problems such as biotic and abiotic stresses to become more pronounced than before. As emphasized earlier, tackling all these would require a continued multidisciplinary action. [Shashi wrote in Message 15: "As genetic improvement requires support from multiple disciplines, including but not limited to agronomy, biochemistry, pathology and genetics, a free flow of information across research groups from all these disciplines is a must." ...Moderator].

Shashi Bhushan Tripathi, PhD.
Biotechnology and Management of Bioresources Division
The Energy and Resources Institute
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
New Delhi- 110003,
Tel. (91)-011-24682100 extn. 2528.
(91)-09811870528 (Mobile)
E-mail: sbhushan (at) teri.res.in
Website: www.teriin.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod3
Sent: 26 November 2008 14:37
To: 'biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: 40: Tissue culture for Jatropha

This is Vijendra Shekhawat, from India, again, replying to Prof. H.P.M. Gunasena's message 38.

At first, I wish to express my sincere thanks for his valuable contribution. I want to draw your kind attention to one point. Plant tissue culture protocols for Jatropha regeneration have been developed effectively. Protocols have also been given by our laboratory at the University of Rajasthan. However, Jatropha is susceptible to rotting. Young pampered tissue culture raised saplings may be vulnerable to deuteromycetes fungus especially in semi-arid conditions. Survival rate recorded in tissue culture raised Jatropha plants was very low. Further, tissue culture raised plants will be more expensive as, compared to seed grown plants, this will significantly increase the plantation cost. Assuming one hectare will require 1500-2500 plants (0% mortality), it will cost around 5000 Rs (if plants are generated through normal nursery practice). However, this cost would be approximately three times more when tissue cultured plants are used (at least - this excludes the costs of tissue culture infrastructure). Therefore I am afraid tissue culture may not be a prudent idea. [5000 Rupees (Rs) is about 100 US dollars...Moderator].

Dr. Vijendra P.S. Shekhawat
Biotechnology Department
Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Applied Sciecnes
Jiapur, Rajasthan
PIN- 303905
E-mail: vijendrapss (at) yahoo.com

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