Bridgestone Americas and NRGene are collaborating on research efforts to enhance the company’s U.S. alternative domestic natural rubber breeding program. They will be working in tandem to sequence and assemble multiple genomes of guayule, a rubber-producing plant indigenous to the hot, dry environments of the Southwestern United States and North Central Mexico, to develop new, high-yielding varieties. The first-ever, two guayule genomes have already been sequenced and completely assembled, and a physical and genetic map are being developed that will provide a high level of accuracy and efficiency for breeding improvement.
“We are looking forward to utilizing NRGene’s capabilities and experience in agricultural genome analytics to move our guayule breeding program to a new level that will ultimately benefit our customers and society,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer, Bridgestone Americas. “This will quickly bring the most advanced molecular breeding capabilities previously found only in advanced row crops to guayule, an undomesticated species.”
The tire company said it is committed to developing a sustainable guayule natural rubber industry in North America for tire production. NRGene is a genomic big data company developing cutting-edge software and algorithms to reveal the complexity and diversity of humans, crop plants, animals and aquatic organisms for supporting the most advanced and sophisticated breeding programs.
“Rubber is critical to every aspect of our lives, from tires to medical devices,” says Dr. Gil Ronen, CEO of NRGene. “Sustainable use of our natural resources is always a key concern, so this represents a major step forward. With more insights into guayule, Bridgestone will be able to increase rubber yields while reducing the resource requirements.”
Reflecting the company’s corporate social responsibility commitment, the partnership is in line with Bridgestone’s goal of using 100 percent sustainable materials by 2050.