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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Accelerated Development of Commercial Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (Hrj) Fuel from Redesigned Oil Seed Feedstock Supply Chains

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The project objectives are interlinked to address three aspects of biofuel supply chain performance. The objectives contribute directly to the establishment of commercial HRJ fuel supply chains from oil seed crops:

(1) Feedstock Enhancement. Produce genetically improved oil seed crops to enhance compatibility of feedstocks with HRJ fuel conversion processes and oil yield and quality stability under stressed production conditions.

(2) Feedstock Production. Provide regionalized strategies to guide sustainable oil seed production integration into existing farms in ways that increase farm profitability and rural economic opportunities while providing biofuel refiners dependable supplies of high quality feedstocks.

(3) Oil Quality. Develop cost-effective processes to remove crop oil impurities from feedstocks that would otherwise increase pre-treatment costs and reduce conversion efficiency of oils to HRJ fuels.

(4) Conversion. Optimally configure conversion technology with genetically improved seed oils and pre-treatment requirements to reduce the cost of HRJ fuels produced.

(5) Commercialization. Align community and business stakeholders to promote their economic opportunities though sustainable asset-based development that incorporates HRJ fuel production compatible with available resources.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Proposed work at ALARC integrates with a broad based plan to improve HRJ production, the proposal involving research objectives that span the hierarchies from oil biomass production, genetic improvement, conversion technology, life cycle analysis, to commercialization. The approach emphasized by SYs at ALARC will utilize genome wide association studies (GWAS) in Brassica napus to link genomic DNA sequence markers (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) to agronomically important phenotypes expressed in the field. ARS scientists will exploit the massive genetic diversity in the USDA stock center and that provided by a collaborator in Idaho, as well as exploit new whole Brassica genomic sequence and bioinformatics tools in collaboration with KeyGene Company and SoyBase. Remote sensing and other high throughput scoring of phenotypes (including oil characters and stress tolerance) will be applied for association with newly identified polymorphisms and QTLs. Multi-location testing of superior genotypes across 10 locations in the Western US, with molecular-marker-aided selection, will lead to identification of elite genotypes for commercialization.


3.Progress Report:

Among the most productive oilseed species is Brassica napus (L.), existing as either a winter or spring annual crop, with diverse oil compositions. To increase the economic return on investment in use of B. napus as a source of biofuel, genetic improvement for oil yield and quality across diverse environments is needed. In that light, we are creating a collection of 800 genetically diverse accessions (diversity panel) from the widest available germplasm worldwide to use as a resource for genetic improvement. This research relates to objective 1 of the inhouse project, “Develop genotyping-by-sequencing methods for diverse cotton, oilseed, and industrial crop germplasm, and map genetic markers for economically and agronomically important traits in these crops". This project is associated with oilseed production, and builds upon our parent project by performing genome sequencing of, and molecular marker identification within, a large Brassica napus diversity panel. Since the project began, we have created large diversity panels of both spring type and winter type Brassica napus, and grown these populations in Idaho, Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping has been completed on all lines, except that those unique lines recently planted in Maricopa, Arizona, line that will be sequenced soon. High throughput seed oil analysis tools have been developed in Maricopa to complement the oil analysis occurring in Peoria,Ilinois, and we await the arrival of the first seeds from recent plantings to complete their analysis. The performance of many other oilseed species is also being accomplished by this project, with replicate plantings being made by our collaborators in 10 diverse locations across the west and Midwestern US. Other goals for this project, such as oil conversion and commercialization goals, are being completed in a timely manner by additional collaborators (e.g. Honeywell United Oil Products, etc.), as well as studies of the rural (sociological and economic) impacts of these new bioenergy oilseed production systems.


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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