A team of scientists has conducted a new research to study how to extract rubber from dandelion flowers.
According to the researchers dandelions can produce a milky, sticky fluid – latex- on its stems.
The substance known as latex is produced by special cells inside the stems of the dandelions that can generate globular particles that are filled with polyisoprene. This can be used as natural rubber, experts say.
The team of scientists broke down a species of Russian dandelion and was able to identify a special protein inside the plant, known as rubber transferase activator, which is an important compound in the production of latex.
According to the researchers, without this special compound, the dandelion would not be able to go on with its natural biosynthesis of rubber.
The scientists are now working to discover the ways this process works in order to mass produce the biotechnological rubber using these small flowers, usually regarded as weeds in people’s gardens and lawns.
At the moment, rubber is harvested in the form of latex taken from rubber tress through a process called tapping.
The latex gathered from the rubber trees is then refined into rubber and can be ready for commercial processing.
According to the experts, rubber trees are very pretentious because they are prone to plant diseases and need to be protected using expensive methods. Also the rubber trees need a lot of space to grow.
A different study conducted by a team of scientists from the Munster University branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, found another very important protein that plays a relevant role in the production of the long polyisoprene chains. This is known to contribute to two of rubbers most important properties, its elasticity and endurance.
Dr. Christian Schulze Gronover, one the scientists involved in the study, explained that the dandelion has become very well known for its properties thanks to applied research.
Dr. Gronover said he is very pleased that he and his team have been able to identify two important components that are crucial from rubber biosynthesis.
According to the researchers, at the moment, the mass production of rubber using a biotechnological method is not possible.
But with the findings of this new study, scientists could help produce rubber biotechnologically in the near future.
About 70% of the world’s natural rubber is used in the production of tires for cars.
Image Source: thecarconnection