Molecular approaches to improvement of Jatropha curcas Linn. as a sustainable energy crop
With the increase in crude oil prices, climate change concerns and limited reserves of fossil fuel, attention has been diverted to alternate renewable energy sources such as biofuel and biomass. Among the potential biofuel crops, Jatropha curcas L, a non-domesticated shrub, has been gaining importance as the most promising oilseed, as it does not compete with the edible oil supplies. Economic relevance of J. curcas for biodiesel production has promoted world-wide prospecting of its germplasm for crop improvement and breeding. However, lack of adequate genetic variation and non-availability of improved varieties limited its prospects of being a successful energy crop. In this review, we present the progress made in molecular breeding approaches with particular reference to tissue culture and genetic transformation, genetic diversity assessment using molecular markers, large-scale transcriptome and proteome studies, identification of candidate genes for trait improvement, whole genome sequencing and the current interest by various public and private sector companies in commercial-scale cultivation, which highlights the revival of Jatropha as a sustainable energy crop. The information generated from molecular markers, transcriptome profiling and whole genome sequencing could accelerate the genetic upgradation of J. curcas through molecular breeding.