Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dandelion Rubber? Researchers Make Russian Dandelion Suitable For Large-scale Rubber Production

Date:
September 11, 2009
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Most natural rubber comes from rubber trees in Southeast Asia, but this source is now under threat from a fungus. Researchers have optimized the Russian dandelion to make it suitable for large-scale rubber production.

Dandelion in the greenhouse.
Credit: Copyright Fraunhofer IME

Most natural rubber comes from rubber trees in Southeast Asia, but this source is now under threat from a fungus. Researchers have optimized the Russian dandelion to make it suitable for large-scale rubber production.

Anyone who has picked dandelions as a child will be familiar with the white liquid that seeps out of the stalks as you break them off. Viscous, sticky – and a much sought-after material: natural latex. Around 30,000 everyday products contain natural rubber, everything from car tires, catheter tubes, latex gloves to tops for drinks bottles. Car tires, for instance, would not be elastic enough without the incorporation of natural rubber. The bulk of this material comes from rubber trees in Southeast Asia.

Rubber produced in this way can, however, cause allergic reactions, which is clearly an issue with clinical products. A fungus is also creating concern for rubber cultivators. In South America the infection is now so widespread that large-scale cultivation has become virtually impossible. The disease now also appears to have taken root in Southeast Asia’s rubber belt. Fungicides still provide at least temporary protection. But if the fungus disease was to reach epidemic proportions, chemical crop protection would be rendered useless – experts fear that the natural latex industry could collapse if that were to happen.

Researchers are therefore turning to other sources – such as the Russian dandelion. Germans, Russians and Americans produced rubber from this plant during the Second World War. Once it is cut, latex seeps out, albeit difficult to use as it polymerizes immediately. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Aachen have now come a step nearer to large-scale rubber production from dandelions.

“We have identified the enzyme responsible for the rapid polymerization and have switched it off,” says Prof. Dr. Dirk Prόfer, Head of Department at the IME. “If the plant is cut, the latex flows out instead of being polymerized. We obtain four to five times the amount we would normally. If the plants were to be cultivated on a large scale, every hectare would produce 500 to 1000 kilograms of latex per growing season.”

The dandelion rubber has not caused any allergies so far, making it ideal for use in hospitals.

In the lab the researchers have genetically modified the dandelion. Their next step will involve cultivating the optimized plants using conventional breeding techniques. In around five years, Prόfer estimates, they may well have achieved their goal. In any case, the dandelion is not just suitable for rubber production: the plant also produces substantial quantities of inulin, a natural sweetener.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Dandelion Rubber? Researchers Make Russian Dandelion Suitable For Large-scale Rubber Production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910091629.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2009, September 11). Dandelion Rubber? Researchers Make Russian Dandelion Suitable For Large-scale Rubber Production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910091629.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Dandelion Rubber? Researchers Make Russian Dandelion Suitable For Large-scale Rubber Production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910091629.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) — Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) — Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) — With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) 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