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A survey of the castor oil content, seed weight and seed-coat colour on
the United States Department of Agriculture germplasm collection

Article  in  Plant Genetic Resources · December 2010


DOI: 10.1017/S1479262110000262

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q NIAB 2010 Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization (2010) 8(3); 229 –231
ISSN 1479-2621 doi:10.1017/S1479262110000262

Short Communication

A survey of the castor oil content, seed


weight and seed-coat colour on the United
States Department of Agriculture germplasm
collection
M. L. Wang1*, J. B. Morris1, D. L. Pinnow1, J. Davis2, P. Raymer3
and G. A. Pederson1
1
USDA– ARS, PGRCU, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223, USA, 2Department of
Experimental Statistics, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223, USA and 3Crop and Soil
Sciences Department, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA 30223, USA

Received 28 May 2010; Accepted 8 July 2010 – First published online 23 July 2010

Abstract
Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is an important non-edible oilseed crop that can potentially be
used as feedstock for biodiesel production. There are 1033 accessions in the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) castor germplasm collection. The range of oil content in
these accessions has never been surveyed. For exploiting castor as a feedstock for biodiesel
production, the entire USDA castor collection was procured from the National Plant
Germplasm System (Germplasm Resources Information Network) and the oil content was
measured with nuclear magnetic resonance. The variation of oil content among all castor
accessions ranged from 37.2 to 60.6% with an average of 48.2%. One hundred seed weights
were determined and seed-coat colour was also recorded from each accession. One hundred
seed weight ranged from 10.1 to 73.3 g with an average of 28.3 g. There was a significant
correlation between seed weight and oil content but the correlation value was low
(r ¼ 0.1572, P , 0.0001). Fifty accessions with a wide range of oil content were selected to
be field grown for further evaluation. The results obtained from this survey will be useful
for castor breeders seeking germplasm accessions with high oil content in the collection.

Keywords: nuclear magnetic resonance method; oil content; Ricinus communis germplasm; USDA collection

Experimental (Vietta and Uhr, 1985). However, castor oil has multiple
uses including medicinal, as an ingredient in shampoo,
Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is an important non-edible soap, hand lotion, high-speed lubricant and as a coating
oilseed crop. Castor seeds are poisonous to humans and material (Morris, 2004). Due to its high oil content, castor
animals because they contain ricin, which can has recently drawn attention for biodiesel production.
inhibit protein synthesis by inactivation of ribosomes The US castor germplasm collection contains 1033 acces-
sions collected or donated from 48 countries. The oil con-
tent for these accessions has never been completely
surveyed. Therefore, the objectives of this study were
* Corresponding author. E-mail: mingli.wang@ars.usda.gov to determine the variability of oil content among 1033
230 M. L. Wang et al.

accessions within the United States Department was performed and means were separated using
of Agriculture (USDA) collection by a non-destructive Tukey’s multiple comparison procedure.
method and to identify accessions with a wide range The results for oil content, 100-seed weight, seed-coat
of oil content for further experimentation, confirmation colour and country of origin were listed in Supplemen-
and utilization. tary Table S1 (available online only at http://journals.
To survey the oil content, available seeds in the cambridge.org). The oil content of castor in the USDA
entire USDA collection were obtained from two collection ranged from 37.2 to 60.6% with an average of
locations: 364 accessions from the USDA –ARS, Plant 48.2%. Tukey’s studentized range (honestly significant
Genetic Resources Conservation Unit, Griffin, GA, USA differences (HSD)) test for oil content was 0.5927%.
and 669 accessions from the USDA –ARS, National The variation range and sample distribution of oil content
Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins, generally formed a normal distribution (Fig. 2). Most of
CO, USA. The oil content was measured using a Mini- the samples had an oil content averaging 48%. Only
spec mq10 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analyzer five samples (NSL 86 416, PI 167238, PI 250573, PI
(Bruker Optics Inc., Houston, TX, USA). All accessions 384013 and PI 274773) had extremely low oil content
were measured in triplicate (25 seeds for each replica- (, 39%) and two samples (NSL 15 621 and PI 240673)
tion) to verify the precision of the NMR signal. The had extremely high oil content (. 57%). These accessions
castor oil content was averaged from three replications. would be useful breeding materials for developing high
The NMR analyzer was operated at a resonance fre- or low oil content castor cultivars. A significant variation
quency of 9.95 MHz and was maintained at 408C. Our for 100-seed weight was detected in the collection, ran-
preliminary experimental results indicated that even ging from 10.1 to 73.3 g with an average of 28.3 g.
small differences in sample temperature can have a Tukey’s Studentized Range (HSD) test for 100-seed
substantial effect on the NMR signal of castor oil weight was 7.41 g (Table S1). There was a significant cor-
(Fig. 1). To avoid the effects of temperature fluctuations relation between seed weight and oil content but the cor-
on samples, all samples were tempered to 408C for relation value was low (r ¼ 0.1572, P , 0.0001).
90 min before measurements. In addition to oil content,
100-seed weight and seed-coat colour were also
recorded. For data analysis, an analysis of variance
180

160
70.00
19°C
N = 1033
20°C 140 Mean = 48.2%
60.00 22.5°C Median = 48.3%
23°C Max = 60.6%
120
Min = 37.2%
Number of accessions

24.5°C
50.00
40°C
100
NMR signal

40.00
80

30.00 60

20.00 40

20
10.00

0
<39
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
>60

0.00
0 1 2 3 4 5 Oil content (%)
Oil mass (g)
Fig. 2. The range and sample distribution of oil content in
Fig. 1. Effect of temperature on nuclear magnetic resonance the entire United States Department of Agriculture castor
(NMR) signals. germplasm collection.
Survey of castor seed from USDA germplasm 231

Discussion detected among accessions within the USDA castor


germplasm collection. Thus, using the accessions iden-
Our results for oil content were similar with a previous tified in this study with high oil content in breeding
published report (da Siliva Ramos et al., 1984). They programmes may help breeders to develop high oil
reported oil content ranging from 39.6 to 59.5% with an castor cultivars for biodiesel production.
average of 51.6%. The slight difference between these
two reports may come from the number of samples
tested and the location of samples collected. In their Acknowledgements
study, only 36 samples were surveyed but the samples
were harvested from the same location in the same The authors thank Brandon Tonnis and Jessica Norris
year. In our study, 1033 samples were surveyed; how- for their excellent assistance with the oil content analysis.
ever, the samples were harvested from different locations
in different years. We suggest that a wider range of oil
content variation (37.2–60.6%) among castor accessions References
in our study occurred because more number of acces-
sions were surveyed. In addition, the correlation between da Siliva Ramos LC, Tango JS, Savi A and Lea NR (1984)
seed weight and oil content with a low value was shown Variability of oil and fatty acid composition in castorbean
statistically significant (r ¼ 0.1572, P , 0.0001). This was varieties. Journal of American Oil Chemistry Society 61:
also due to more number of accessions being surveyed 1841 – 1843.
Morris JB (2004) Phytochemical traits in the genetic resources
in our study. of castorbean. Current Topics in Plant Biology 5: 63 –67.
Our preliminary results indicate that significant Vietta ES and Uhr JW (1985) Immunotoxins: redirection nature’s
variability in oil content and 100-seed weight has been poisons. Cell 41: 653 – 654.

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