ERJ staff report (TP)
Casa Grande, Arizona – The guayule industry took one step closer to commercialisation last week as PanAridus company officials announced on Earth Day (22 April) the US Department of Agriculture Plant Variety Protection Office has granted the company eight new Plant Variety Patents, certifying the company has invented and reproduced eight new strains of the guayule shrub.
Guayule, a native Sonoran Desert plant, has been viewed as a promising natural rubber alternative to the Hevea (rubber) tree because they yield almost identical polymers, which can be utilised for tires, tubes, medical devices and gloves among other products; however, the industry has struggled for decades trying to unlock the genetic secrets to producing higher and annual yields to make it profitable for farmers to grow and offset the demand-induced global shortfall by the end of the decade.
The US government and domestic tire companies have been particularly interested in guayule as the nation must now import 100 percent of its supply of natural rubber from tropical regions where the Hevea tree grows, with tire companies consuming between 60-65 percent of all imports.
Since launching in 2009, PanAridus has committed itself to the sustained research of the genetics and breeding of guayule, and now houses both the largest privately owned germplasm bank as well as the largest number of proprietary genetic strains of guayule in the world. It is also the first company in the world to produce Crop Improvement certified guayule seed.
PanAridus CEO, Mike Fraley, called the eight new patents part of the company’s continuing commitment to global advancement of guayule phenotypes. “The mission of our company is unlocking the keys to sustainable agriculture on a resource constrained planet. Successfully growing essential commodities on arid land while utilising less water is central to the effort,” he said.
“Announcing these eight PVP’s on Earth Day is symbolic of our commitment to marrying science with maintaining a lighter footprint to meet human needs,” Fraley added.
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Press release from PanAridus