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Research Project: Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Preservation and Quality Assessment

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Title: Jojoba – a species with an uncommon liquid wax

Author
item Jenderek, Maria

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2018
Publication Date: 4/2/2019
Citation: Jenderek, M.M. 2019. Jojoba – a species with an uncommon liquid wax. Book Chapter. 486-492.

Interpretive Summary: Jojoba seeds contain an unusual liquid wax that is not known to be present in seeds of other plants. The wax is commonly referred to as jojoba oil. The oil is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, dietetic foods, lubricants, coatings, surfactants and in production of bio-diesel. The species is a shrub, naturally growing in southwestern Arizona and California and northwestern Mexico and it is adapted to a wide range of temperature and desert conditions. Cultivation of jojoba is of interest to many countries with vast semi-arid areas in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia not only as an oil producer but also as a landscape, land restoration and dust protection plant. In the USA, the species was of great interest in the 1960ties and 1970ties when it was thought to produce income for Native Americans inhabiting semi-arid regions and substitute imported oil from whale species that were placed on the endangered species list. Low seed yield, lack of cultivars producing large seed yield (jojoba has female and male flowers on separate shrubs), not knowing cultivation requirements resulted in relinquishing the plantations. During a 25 year period, the most progress in developing high seed yield cultivars, optimizing cultivation practices and introducing mechanization was made in Israel. In the wilderness, the shrub grows abundantly and it is hardy in changing weather conditions; hence, no plant protection regulations are implemented. Selected genotypes (wild and improved) might be acquired from the USDA-ARS, National Arid Land Plant Resources Unit in California.

Technical Abstract: NOTE: The Abstract content in the book might be different from the one below. Seed of jojoba a (Simmondsia chinensis (Link) C.K. Schneid) contain 48-65% of liquid wax that is not found in other plant species. The wax is composed of ester mixtures, triacylglycerols, free fatty alcohols and sterols. The wax (commonly named jojoba oil) has application in producing cosmetics, diet food, pharmaceuticals, coatings, lubricants, surfactants and bio-diesel; it has also antifungal and insecticidal properties and the meal may contain up to 30% of protein that makes it suitable for animal food supplements after detoxification. The oil is highly stable in temperatures <120oC and during a prolonged storage. First analyses of the oil were done in the 1950-1960ties and the first cultivation in the U. S. started ca. 1976-78. Cropping jojoba seeds was intended to provide income for Native Americans living in semi-arid lands and provide an oil substitute for oil harvested from some whale species placed on the endangered species list. Establishing plantations without selected cultivars and with no knowledge of cultivation resulted in deserting the project in the U.S. However during a 25 year period, Israel made jojoba a profitable crop by developing high seed yielding cultivars, cultivation practices and adapting harvest machinery from other crops. The shrub’s high adaptability to semi-arid conditions and marginal land constitutes the species a feasible crop worldwide for countries with extensive semi-desert land, and several countries carry out research on various aspects of Simmondsia. Jojoba is endemic to southwestern Arizona and California and northwestern Mexico and grows abundantly and resiliently in its habitat; hence, no plant protection measures were instituted. The USDA-ARS, National Arid Land Plant Resources Unit in California preserves selected wild and improved genetic resources of jojoba that are freely distributed for research and educational purposes.