SeedQuest, April 8, 2013
Today the US based biotech company Kultevat and KeyGene, a biotech company from the Netherlands announced that they entered into collaboration for production of rubber based on the Russian dandelion. This plant has demonstrated potential as a domesticated crop for the U.S. and Europe; the origin of the species is the south eastern part of Kazachstan. Kultevat and KeyGene will invest in the development and commercial introduction of new dandelion varieties that are enriched for latex in its roots that are suitable for large scale production of natural rubber. KeyGene will be responsible for development of new varieties using state of the art molecular breeding technologies while Kultevat will develop appropriate production practices and large scale latex extraction and rubber production in North America. KeyGene will use the newly developed varieties and its production technologies for production of rubber in other global locations.
Natural rubber is used in many high quality rubber products including medicinal gloves, clothing, as well as in automotive and heavy duty tires. Currently, natural rubber is almost exclusively derived from latex harvested from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) that is cultivated in Southeast Asia. Because of the high demands for rubber in emerging economies, the price of raw rubber has sharply increased in recent years, fueling the need for an alternative source. The Russian dandelion, Taraxacum koksaghyz, produces high quality rubber that can be extracted from its taproot. Current varieties produce roots that are relatively small in size. KeyGene will apply molecular breeding technologies to increase plant size and productivity of latex, while Kultevat will adapt modern agronomic practices to different growing sites in the U.S. to further ‘domesticate’ the new varieties developed by KeyGene. (read more) (download Press Release)