Jatropha curcas L is an important source plant for the production of biodiesel fuel. XTBG started the studies on Jatropha curcas L. in 1970s. Since 2005, Assoc. Prof. Yang Chengyuan of XTBG and his team focused on the selection of high-oil-yield seed sources of Jatropha curcas L. and made research advances.
The research team collected different geographic seed sources (in total, 80) of Jatropha curcas L. in South China, and planted in a germplasm resource garden for the study of their biological characteristics and agricultural properties.
The study found that the average ground diameter, tree height and crown size of 2-year-old plants for the 80 sources was 0.076, 1.67 and 1.14 m, respectively, and the average 1000-seed weight was 0.676 kg (0.477–0.876 kg). The trees grew further to an average size of 0.13 m in diameter, 2.69 m in height and with a crown of 2.1 m at the fourth year. Among the 80 sources, six sources with higher oil yield and better expression of phenotype were selected for a small-scale trial, conducted to determine oil yield. A maximum value of 783 oil kg/hectare, that is, 2.7-times the national best yield, was achieved for 3-year-old trees. The oil produced from the six sources was further successfully processed to qualified biodiesel by a two-step process.
The study concluded that high-oil-yield seeds were selected from the geological sources that can be further bred to meet the national requirement for large-scale plantation to provide crude Jatropha oil for the production of biodiesel.
Related research result has been published in Biofuels, 1 (5): 705-717, doi: 10.4155/bfs.10.40.