Monday, November 13, 2006 - 8:30 AM

Lint, Cottonseed Oil, or Biodiesel? - Breeding Cotton for the Next Decade.

Dick Auld1, Efrem Bechere2, Jim Davis3, Lindy Seip3, and Jack Brown3. (1) Texas Tech Univ. Plant and Soil Science Dept, Box 42122, Lubbock, TX 79409-2122, (2) Texas Tech Univ, Plant and Soil Science Dept.,, Box 42122, Lubbock, TX 79409-2122, (3) Univ of Idaho, PSES Dept, AG SCI 328, Moscow, ID 83844-2339

The 1.3 billion pounds of cottonseed (Gossypium hirsutum L.) oil produced each year makes it the third leading vegetable oil in the U.S.   The cottonseed processing industry is a $1.2 billion industry and provides up to 15% of the gross return on cotton production.  However, it takes twice as much photosynthetic energy to make one unit of cottonseed oil as it does to make one unit of lint.  Because the oil is produced during seed maturation when cotton fiber is being formed, reducing the oil content of cottonseed has increased fiber production.  Recently, the rapidly increasing price of fossil fuels has created an opportunity to produce "Biodiesel" from cottonseed oil.  Research at Texas Tech University over the past decade has identified two separate genetic mechanisms which could significantly increase the yield of cottonseed oil and potential biodiesel production.  Direct selection in chemically mutated populations of upland cotton has identified six M8 lines which increase seed oil content.  A second mutation essentially eliminates residual lint on the surface of the cottonseed which could enhance extracted oil yield from cottonseed by 10% while significantly reducing the cost of oil extraction.  Incorporation of these two relatively simple genetic modifications into cotton varieties could increase the  yield potential biodiesel by over 20% while maintaining current lint yields and fiber quality.  These simple inherited traits which increase biodiesel production can be quickly incorporated into both stripper and picker varieties to help ensure the continued production and economic viability of cotton.