The world needs rubber. Rubber is crucial for the tires on the cars, trucks and airplanes that propel modern transportation. It is equally important for daily tasks: latex gloves in the lab, balloons in angioplasty and wetsuits that warm a cold dip in the ocean. Rubber can be made synthetically from petroleum derivatives, but synthetic rubber is not as strong as rubber iso- lated from plants. The principal plant source for natural rubber (NR) is the sap of the Par´ a tree (Hevea brasiliensis), which is grown throughout Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the produc- tion capacity of the Par´ a tree is limited by the availability of suitable land and by labor-intensive harvesting methods. The sustainability of the Par´ a crop is also constrained by its narrow genetic base, which may make the crop susceptible to disease.
Journal: National science review