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Synthetic Genomics, ACGT to Sequence Oil Palm Genome for Alternative Energy Clues

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Synthetic Genomics and the Asian Center for Genome Technology plan to sequence and analyze the genome of the oil palm, and ACGT’s parent company has made an undisclosed equity investment in SG, SG said today.
ACGT, based in Kuala Lumpur, is owned by an oil palm plantation, Asiatic Development Berhad, which is listed on the Malaysian Stock Exchange.
SG called oil palm “one of the most productive oil crops,” but said its “promise as a clean energy source has not been fully realized.”
"Biofuels derived from oilseed plants by using genomic tools are a promising alternative that could alleviate our reliance on fossil fuels if they can be used in an environmentally sound way,” Synthetic Genomics CEO Craig Venter said in a statement.
SG and ACGT plan to use the genomic data to pursue ways to “enable palm oil to be a better source of renewable fuel by breeding plants with useful traits,” SG said.  
The researchers would like to hunt for the genomic mechanisms behind traits that allow for growth in arid locations, and for those linked to higher oil yield and low height.
SG said the first phase of the agreement will focus on oil palm, and in later studies the groups will study the palm’s root and microbial communities “to identify biomarkers and metabolic pathways that affect the plant's growth and viability.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

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