School of Plant Biology

Postgraduates

 

Start date

Jan 2009

Submission date

Jan 2012

Links

Ni Luh Arpiwi (2013)

Thesis

Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi a biodiesel trees, characterisation of traits for production on marginal land.

Summary

Millettia pinnata is a medium sized leguminous tree which bears oil seeds. It is increasingly becoming important as a viable source for biodiesel. The challenging tasks of developing the plant as a feed stock for biodiesel include understanding the genetic diversity of the species and selection for genetic improvement, knowledge of floral biology to improve pollination, and phenology of seed development and oil synthesis. The study site is in Forest Products Commission (FPC), Frank Wise Research Institute, Kununurra, North Western Australia. Genetic diversity is being examined via direct sequencing of ITS regions of genomic DNA. This will be compared to plants grown in Indonesia and some states of India. Oil is extracted in hexane using soxhlet method and the fatty acid compositions are measured using Gas Chromatography. Floral traits, pollination, seed set and seed yield are being assessed. Growth is being manipulated via pruning, hedging, and plant growth regulators with an aim to modify growth to provide a system suitable for machine harvesting.

Why my research is important

The main source of world energy is fossil fuels. This energy is non-renewable and will be depleted in a few decades if consumer trends continue. To anticipate the rapid decline in crude oil reserves and demand for energy in the future, the search for suitable alternative fuels has increased in many countries. Promising alternatives are non-edible oils derived from plants that can be used as biodiesel. Millettia pinnata is a tropical tree that produces seed oil suitable for biodiesel. Trees can be grown on a large scale in marginal or waste lands with low inputs of irrigation and fertilizer. Millettia is a long term crop which yields from age 5 up to 100 years providing long term supply of seed oil. More importantly, the seed yield is high (9-90 kg per tree) with relatively high seed oil content of 30%-40%.

Funding

  • Forest Products Commission
  • Indonesian Government
  • Plant Biology, UWA