June 18, 2013 06:00 ET

SGB Global Field Trials Reveal Rust-Resistant Jatropha Curcas

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Jun 18, 2013) - SGB, Inc. (SG Biofuels), an energy crop company delivering high performance bioenergy solutions for the renewable fuel and chemicals markets, has identified fungal rust-resistant hybrids of Jatropha curcas through its global network of field trials. Identification of the trait provides a critical defensive attribute to ensure plant health and yield preservation for the non-food energy crop.

SGB made the announcement during a presentation at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Montreal, Canada.

At multiple JMax Knowledge Center™ trial sites, several of SGB's high yielding hybrids manifest a range of resistance levels to the fungal rust pathogen Phakopsora arthuriana -- from complete immunity to moderate resistance. Rust-related diseases can be destructive not only to Jatropha, but to mainstream crops as well. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 29 countries in Africa, Asia and Southeast Asia -- accounting for 37 percent of global wheat production -- are currently affected or at potential risk from a particularly potent form of wheat stem rust called Ug99 (Puccinia graminis f. sp. Tritici). Asian soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) increased 84% in Brazil this past cropping season compared to the previous year, according to the Embrapa Consortium of Anti-rust. Furthermore, the International Coffee Organization has called the current rust outbreak in Central America the worst since 1976.

"This discovery speaks to the diversity of our germplasm and enables SGB to add rust-resistance to the suite of trait attributes available in our high yielding hybrids," said Grant Aldridge, director of product development for SGB. "While achieving yield targets is important, so too is an integrated approach that manages planting risk and maintains yield performance under a variety of stresses and adverse conditions."

In addition to improved disease resistance, attributes of SGB's hybrids include improved germination rates and improved stress and insect tolerance. SGB's hybrids also exhibit early flowering and fruiting.

SGB's JMax Knowledge Centers™ are professionally managed trials where SGB evaluates hundreds of hybrids in a range of environmental and agronomic conditions. With 13 locations now established in Brazil, India and Central America, the centers serve as outdoor classrooms where SGB agronomists and technical teams conduct training and field tours with customers and growers, and develop localized agronomic studies and recommendations while advancing the top performing Jatropha hybrids for commercial deployment. 

SGB's hybrids have been developed following five years of research, drawing from a diverse germplasm library including more than 12,000 genotypes. SGB recently validated that its germplasm collection contains more than 2 million individual genetic markers, confirming Jatropha has a genetic diversity comparable to corn and other domesticated crops.

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