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EU-based Production and Exploitation of Alternative Rubber and Latex Sources (EU-PEARLS)
Start date: 01 Apr 2008, End date: 30 Sep 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Natural rubber is a widely used raw material essential to industry, medicine, transportation and defence, whose major source, the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, is currently both sustainable and environmentally beneficial. However, increased worldwide demand for natural rubber and latex means that alternative sustainable sources are urgently required. In order to meet this challenge, we propose to create a Network that links all stakeholders involved in the development and sustainable use of Parthenium argentatum (guayule) and Taraxacum koksaghyz (Russian dandelion) as alternative rubber and latex sources in the EU. To guarantee the sustainable development and exploitation of both crops throughout the value creation chain, the project includes research into the collection and creation of new germplasm, biochemistry and genetics, breeding, agronomy, processing, and product development. The entire rubber biosynthetic pathway will be analysed, and potential bottlenecks will be identified and bypassed through targeted conventional breeding. Genes involved in rubber biosynthesis will be mapped, helping to accelerate breeding strategies in order to generate plants with commercially-viable rubber yields. Such plants will be tested for efficient growth and rubber production in the field under different climatic and edaphic conditions in Europe. The technical performance and economic potential of rubber extracted from these plants will be evaluated by producing specific prototypes, such as surgical gloves and tires. The envisaged consortium will create a collaborative network of European research organisations and industrial participants, with the necessary scientific and administrative expertise and cross-disciplinary experience to meet the project objectives, and the motivation and determination to produce the deliverables and achieve the project milestones as outlined in the proposal."
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