Monday, November 26, 2012

A 3-way interspecific Jatropha hybrid has been born

Seed comparisonBHX1 Jatropha interspecific hybrid (6 DAS)BHX2 Jatropha interspecific hybrid (7 DAS)BHX1 Jatropha interspecific hybrid (10 DAS)

A 3-way interspecific Jatropha hybrid, a picture set on Flickr following the development.
To the best of our knowledge this is a first in commercial hybrid Jatropha breeding history: Bionic Palm has succeeded to naturally create an innovative interspecific hybrid which contains genetic material from 3 different Jatropha species. No GMO was involved in the process.

Over the coming 12 to 18 months breeding specialists will explore all angles of this exciting success. This group of plants has the potential to mark the beginning of a new era in the development of commercially viable Jatropha planting material. It opens the route to a plethora of new traits including the potential to develop semi-annual Jatropha curcas hybrids similar to commercial Castor varieties. Still in its earliest state, this development could of course turn out a complete failure. Only time will tell.

Bionic Palm Jatropha breeders have worked for three years to identify a working breeding path that allows for this unique combination of genetic material. Already a large number of new crosses using genetically diverse parental interspecific hybrids are under development to confirm this break through. If reproduction turns out successful this approach will be available for the development of many new superior hybrid Jatropha cultivars.

In any case this was a key objective of Bionic Palm's Jatropha Breeder 3.0 platform development for the last 3 years. Finally getting there after many failures sets another milestone on the continuous success path of the project. Patent applications for the protocol that has been developed to make this procedure repetitive are under way.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bionic publishes formerly confidential presentation on Jatropha Breeding Platform

Bionic management took a bold decision recently on the public sharing of information from its Jatropha Breeding Program. Only information directly connected to pending patent applications will in the future remain confidential. This means that the main bulk of information and developed knowledge from one of the world's most advanced commercial Jatropha breeding activities can and will be shared publicly over time.

Bionic wants to set an example in modern, more open information exchange policies in the sector of commercial plant development.

In a first step today the full presentation on the Bionic Jatropha Breeding Platform was made public on the Bionic Palm website. Check it out here Bionic Jatropha Breeding Platform to learn about the details of modern plant breeding.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Heterosis increases Jatropha seed weight 100% and more

Heterosis makes a difference in seed size!
It has been only a month since we last wrote on heterosis in Jatropha breeding. However, we had not seen then, what we have seen now…

We have harvested a handfull of seeds from the intraspecific hybrid exhibiting by far the strongest heterosis effects in leave size and height. And we were up for a real surprise.

We had recently seen 2 scientific reports on heterosis trials with Jatropha in South East Asia mentioning maximum positive heterosis in seed weight of up to 25%. We therefore really had not expected to see our highest 100-seed weight so far. Extrapolated from 20 harvested seeds it is slightly above 110g. Seed size can be compared very well in the picture above with control (small seeds on the right) being a typical average size Jatropha seed at a 100-seed weight of 56g.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

F2 Jatropha interspecific hybrids available

In the second half of August we successfully germinated the first three F2 seedlings from one of our interspecific hybrids. From now we have F2 Jatropha interspecific hybrids available for further breeding. While some research reports seem to indicate that this type of interspecific hybrid is sterile or not interesting for breeding, we observe an ongoing successful seed development on several of our early F1 plants deriving from different Jatropha curcas female parents.

Large diversity in F2 interspecific hybrids not unexpected
F2 seedlings of interspecific JcL hybrids 1 month old showing wide variation

As expected from applying general Mendel rules the F2 generation is much more genetically diverse than the F1 generation. Out of 3 seedlings so far, only the one on the left seems to be a strong and healthy plant while the other 2 are only moving along very slowly.

Fruit on an interspecific F1 hybrid
We expect our F2 interspecific population to grow very fast over the coming months involving many different F1 interspecific parents with genetically very different Jatropha curcas parents in turn. Currently many F1s are initiating their first flowering. On the interspecific route of our breeding program this is really what we have worked on for almost 3 years, as now we start moving into terrain which has not previously discussed in the scientific literature to the best of our knowledge.

This development marks another success in our initial target to bring as much variability into the germplasm available to us for future selective breeding. We are now able to work on a real ground breaking next step we had been planning for since we did the first interspecific cross almost 2 years ago. With a little luck results will become visible before the end of the year.

Further observations on the interspecific breeding route will be published here as much as possible, but of course we will have to start protecting our intellectual property where we reach the forefront of commercial hybrid development as we are expecting a meaningful patent application before too long.

F2 Jatropha interspecific hybrids available

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The new Bionic Cocoa project

At Bionic Palm an exciting new agriforestry project has been brought on the way. The Bionic Cocoa project will feature double hedges of Cocoa trees planted alongside local food crops like maize, pepper, tomatoes, okro, cocoa yam, plantain and more.

Bionic Palm’s experience from over 3 years of Jatropha/food crop farming will be a major input to the project which will be conducted in active cooperation with local families.

New forms of participation by the local farming community and land owners are being developed.

During a 2-3 year test phase all technical details and their feasibility will be worked out. The project is governed by the highest levels of sustainability including a completely organic approach, soil retaining inputs like mycorrhiza and other micro organisms, biochar soil amendments and no-till weed management. The Bionic Palm leadership is convinced, that the most environmentally and socially sustainable methods will also generate the most sustainable profit expectations combined with a lower risk in any life-cycle assessment of the project.

Find more about this project in the Cocoa section on the Bionic Palm website.

The new Bionic Cocoa project

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bionic Palm has launched the Jatropha Breeder 3.0 Blog

After experimenting with the idea for almost a year Bionic Palm MD Ulrich B Riemann has finally decided to officially launch his new blog "The Jatropha Breeder 3.0 by Bionic Palm". This coincides with the successful end of an almost 24 months proof-of-concept (POC) testing our various ideas and concepts to improve the immensely under-performing Jatropha curcas species in its potential role as an energy and feed crop.

We were able to demonstrate with great success that our vision of high performing non-toxic Jatropha cultivars is not a dream, but in many ways a reality. Before the POC ended June 30th we were able to develop the first 12 seedlings of a highly variable back-cross generation (BC1). This generation of unique hybrids will be a cornerstone for various promising breeding approaches to come. Going forward many high yielding non-toxic and toxic varieties will be developed. We expect to reach our initial target of a high performing non-toxic elite cultivar within the coming 24 months. Field testing has already started with some unique early non-toxic intraspecific hybrids which will be used in long term poultry feed trials starting later this year.

Here at the Bionic Group we are all very excited to see what was achievable so far with a small network of scientific partners from Europe and a very small budget. A significant amount of valuable IP has been generated which will lead to a number of patent applications in the near future.