Bridgestone rubber tree research pays off

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Bridgestone Corp. says it has successfully decoded the main genome sequence for the latex-producing rubber tree. The genome sequence is the "blueprint" of living organisms containing the genetic information needed in maintenance and reproduction of the life.

(Latex is the natural rubber required for tire production and a myriad of other important rubber products.)

This new genome data is expected to facilitate development of improved breeding technologies and growing methods for natural rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis). These technologies can enable the development of a better clone of the plant and improve the yield and quality of the latex produced.

The data also may accelerate research applications in a variety of fields, including the development of a clone with superior disease resistance and stress tolerance.

The Bridgestone Group has been conducting basic research into molecular breeding of Hevea brasiliensis to enhance the productivity of natural rubber. To accelerate these research activities, it has helped decode an estimated 1.4 billion base pair (bp)genome for Hevea brasiliensis. The sequence data obtained through this research project is estimated to cover more than 90% of the gene-rich regions of the genome.

Bridgestone says demand for tires is expected to increase in tandem with the growth in automobile ownership worldwide. As a group, Bridgestone "is committed to effectively using the earth's resources as well as the advancement of reducing, reusing, and recycling initiatives."

In addition, the company believes that in the future, new resources for tires should derive from sustainable materials. Bridgestone's goal is to develop tires from 100% sustainable materials.

The research breakthrough was accomplished in conjunction with Genome Informatics Laboratory in the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Decoding the Genome sequence was fully supported by Illumina Inc.

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