TOKYO (July 10, 2012) - Bridgestone Corporation today announced that it has successfully decoded the main genome sequence*1 for Hevea brasiliensis*2 a euphorbiaceous plant material for producing latex*3 - commonly known as the rubber tree - which produces latex. Latex is the natural rubber required for tire production and a myriad of other important rubber products. The research breakthrough was accomplished in conjunction with Genome Informatics Laboratory in the National Institute of Genetics (Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture) *4.
This new genome data is expected to facilitate development of improved breeding technologies and growing methods for Hevea brasiliensis/natural rubber. 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 (the Group) has been conducting basic research into molecular breeding*5 of Hevea brasiliensis to enhance the productivity of natural rubber. To accelerate these research activities, the Group has decoded an estimated 1.4 billion base pair (bp)*6 genome for Hevea brasiliensis together with the Genome Informatics Laboratory in the National Institute of Genetics. The sequence data obtained through this research project is estimated to cover more than 90% of the gene-rich regions of the genome.
The Group is advancing initiatives in several fields for developing the natural rubber industry. For example, since February 2011, Bridgestone, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and the Indonesian Technology Assessment and Application Agency have been partnering on international biotechnology projects aimed at increasing natural rubber production. This type of research is not only expected to help increase the productivity of natural rubber but also advance the use of genome science for industry.
Demand for tires is expected to increase in tandem with the growth in automobile ownership worldwide. The Group is committed to effectively using the earth's resources as well as the advancement of 'reducing', 'reusing', and 'recycling' initiatives. In addition, the Group believes that in the future new resources for tires should derive from sustainable materials. Therefore, the Group aims to eventually develop tires from 100% sustainable materials*7 through research into biomaterials in several fields, including the research discussed here for enhancing natural rubber productivity.