Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Secret To Castor Bean's Awesome Oil Revealed

Date:
December 16, 2005
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Castor plants, source of one of the world's best industrial oils, are gradually revealing the secrets of how they make this prized substance. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Albany, Calif., are delving into the mostly-mysterious mechanisms.

Castor beans.
Credit: Photo by Brian Prechtel / courtesy of USDA/Agricultural Research Service

Castor plants, source of one of the world's best industrial oils, are gradually revealing the secrets of how they make this prized substance. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Albany, Calif., are delving into the mostly-mysterious mechanisms.

Castor oil is unique and is valued as a lubricant for heavy machinery, or for making greases, pharmaceuticals, paints and more.

The researchers' probing has revealed, for the first time, the starring role that a gene called RcDGAT may play in directing the castor plant to put the oil's most important component, known as ricinoleate, into it.

Ricinoleate is safe and free of ricin, the castor bean plants' natural toxin. The word "ricin" in the name "ricinoleate" stems from the plant's scientific name, Ricinus communis.

ARS research chemist Thomas A. McKeon did the work at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany along with research chemist Jiann-Tsyh Lin and ARS research associate and molecular biologist Xiaohua He.

The scientists filed a patent application for the gene last year. Right now, the researchers are continuing to slip the newly identified gene into yeasts in laboratory experiments that will determine more about how to harness RcDGAT's oil-making prowess.

The idea of producing castor's superior oil in some other plant--one that's safe and easy to grow in the United States--isn't new. But RcDGAT will likely be more important in performing that biochemical feat than other castor-plant genes.

The United States imports about $50 million worth of castor oil every year, primarily from India and mainly for industrial uses.

Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., provided some of the funding through a research and development agreement with ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "New Secret To Castor Bean's Awesome Oil Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185601.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2005, December 16). New Secret To Castor Bean's Awesome Oil Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185601.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "New Secret To Castor Bean's Awesome Oil Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185601.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Fox Bites Conn. Student And School Staffers In Rare Attack

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) A fox attacked a second-grade boy at a Connecticut elementary school Monday. It also attacked two school staff members and a woman and her dog. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Will Living Glue Be A Thing?

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Using proteins derived from mussels, engineers at MIT have made a supersticky underwater adhesive. They're now looking to make "living glue." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

Raw: Tiger Kills Man at India Zoo

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo and jumped into the animal's enclosure on Tuesday, a spokesman said. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins