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Aug 23, 2010

Castor Bean Genome Sequenced

Castor bean plant with flowers
Photo courtesy of Dr. Ombrello
Union County College
In August 2010, scientists from the University of Maryland and the J. Craig Venter Institute published an article in Nature Biotechnology announcing that they have completed the preliminary version of the castor bean, Ricinus communis, genome.

Castor beans produce castor oil, a fatty acid containing ricinoleic acid.  Castor beans belong to the same plant family as cassava and rubber tree.  They produce high-yields in soil where it is often difficult to grown anything else.

Scientists have been researching the possibilities of using castor oil as biofuel.  It is already used as a lubricant in high performance engines.  The key to increase productivity as a biofuel is to produce castor beans that do not contain the toxic protein ricin. 

Castor oil is also used in cosmetics and medical products. 

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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