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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Commodity Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #320170

Research Project: Increasing the Value of Cottonseed

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Tung (Vernicia fordii and Vernicia montana)

item Shockey, Jay
item Rinehart, Timothy - Tim
item CHEN, YICUN - Chinese Academy Of Forestry
item YANGDONG, WANG - Chinese Academy Of Forestry
item ZHIYONG, ZHAN - Chinese Academy Of Forestry
item LISONG, HU - Chinese Academy Of Forestry

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2015
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
Citation: Shockey, J., Rinehart, T., Chen, Y., Yangdong, W., Zhiyong, Z., Lisong, H. 2016. Tung (Vernicia fordii and Vernicia montana). In: McKeon, T.A., Hayes, D.G., Hildebrand, D.F., Weselake, R.J., editors. Industrial Oil Crops. Kidlington, Oxford, UK: Academic Press and AOCS Press. p. 243-273.

Interpretive Summary: Tung trees, and the valuable oils produced in their seeds, have been valuable agricultural commodities in the United States for more than 100 years. The long and interesting history of the domestic industry, from the primitive physical processing of tung oil from a few trees in 1900’s Florida to commodity level production and utilization of the oil in sophisticated organic synthesis designs and molecular breeding programs is an interesting vignette in the history of American agricultural science. The agronomic, chemical, and molecular biological knowledge acquired relating to tung trees and tung seed oils is summarized here.

Technical Abstract: The oils produced from the seeds of the tung tree (also known as China wood oil tree) [Vernicia fordii (Hemsl.) and Vernicia montana (Lour.)] (previously Aleurites fordii and A. montana) occupy an important niche in the industrial vegetable oils market. The trees likely originated in China and have been grown and cultivated for oil production there for thousands of years; descriptions of tung oil use appear in the writings of Confucius from about 400 B.C. China still accounts for at least 70% of global tung oil production annually, but over time production has spread to various other countries (see Table 1). This crop was established in the United States nearly a century ago and the supply of tung oil quickly rose to fill the demand for high-quality, fast-drying oils used in manufacturing of paints, varnishes, inks, linoleum, and numerous other types of products. In recent years, tung oil has been used in synthesis schemes for production of modern, high value/high performance materials such as specialized resins and biodiesel. Recent advances in biochemistry and molecular biology have provided the means to dissect the tung oil biosynthetic pathway, an important step towards the long-term goal of engineering tung-like oils in the seeds of other oilseed species. In this review, we will present a brief history of the tung industry in the United States, describe some of the modern uses of tung oil in industrial processes, and summarize the current status of genetic and biochemical analysis of the genes and enzymes in the tung oil biosynthetic pathway.