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Genetic and morpho-anatomical diversity and genetic improvement of macaúba (Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. Ex Mart.) (Arecaceae) for biodiesel production

Grant number: 11/11393-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2012
Effective date (End): November 30, 2015
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Crop Science
Principal Investigator:Carlos Augusto Colombo
Grantee:Suelen Alves Vianna
Host Institution: Instituto Agronômico (IAC). Agência Paulista de Tecnologia dos Agronegócios (APTA). Secretaria de Agricultura e Abastecimento (São Paulo - Estado). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The fruit of macaúba palm (Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart.) is a major potential source for biodiesel production in Brazil. It is a pioneer species, with high rusticity and a source of non-timber forestry products, besides being suitable for occupying degraded or marginal preserved land. Although the species has potential to produce four to five thousand liters of oil per ha per year with no technology, its commercial cultivation is still very incipient. Five years ago we have started characterization of natural environment and genetic diversity of spontaneously occurring populations at the state of São Paulo, using agro-morphological descriptors and microsatellite markers for plant characterization (FAPESP 05/56931-6). The activities planned for pursuing the doctor's degree (DS) of this proposal will follow up those studies by performing analysis and selection of elite plants based on pre-existing studies. Following, the progenies of those elite plants will be evaluated in three different environmental conditions to obtain genetic parameters and to select mother plants to produce seedlings for commercial planting. At the same time, genetic diversity of São Paulo state-wide occurring plants will be characterized as related the species diversity, represented by plants of A. aculeata from other Brazilian states and other countries where it occurs naturally. The occurrence of natural hybrids between A. aculeata and A. totai in the region where both species occur sympatrically will be tested by microsatellite markers and morpho-agronomic descriptors. Morpho-anatomical studies of the fruit of macaúba will be carried out in order to establish a relationship between oil yield and the amount of oil-producing cells in the mesocarp of A. aculeata. Similarly, leaflets and fruits of the six Acrocomia species occurring in Brazil will be studied by anatomical techniques for taxonomic purposes. This proposal, which combines technology, infrastructure and knowledge in different areas, is seen as a tool for introducing the farming and economic integration of this important native species. (AU)

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