Work to Develop New Breeds of Lesquerella
July 15, 2003
An Agricultural Research Service laboratory in
Arizona and a research university in Mexico are working together to develop
breeds of lesquerella that can tolerate and grow in the saline soils of Mexico
and the southwestern United States.
The ARS U.S. Water Conservation
Laboratory's Environmental and Plant
Dynamic Research Unit in Phoenix, Ariz., is testing its lesquerella plants
at the Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro, in Coahuila, Mexico.
Lesquerella is a wild flower of the mustard family. ARS researchers at
several locations across the country are investigating different uses of the
crop such as using it as an oil, like castor oil, or as a gum to thicken
certain foods. Lesquerella has traditionally not grown well in soil that is
irrigated with salty water, but the researchers think they have created a new
version that can withstand the salinity.
The lesquerella seeds that are planted in Mexico were developed a few years
ago in conjunction with the ARS George
E. Brown, Jr., Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, Calif. ARS scientists are
trying to develop a more diverse group of lesquerella plants that can grow in
different regions and withstand certain pests or pathogens.
The Mexican scientist Diana Jasso de Rodríguez is responsible for the
planting and experimenting in the Coahuila region of northern Mexico. ARS
geneticist David A. Dierig, of the Phoenix lab, chose that region of Mexico to
do the research because he successfully conducted a lesquerella germplasm
collection with Jasso de Rodríguez there a few years ago.
The Specific Cooperative Agreement lasts through September 2007. The
researchers hope by that time to develop a more suitable variety of lesquerella
that can be harvested in Mexico. They have also planted similar experiments in
the Pecos region of Texas in cooperation with Texas A&M University, as well as another
planting in Phoenix. The ARS Riverside lab is analyzing all plant samples from
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.