Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dandelion : When Flower becomes Tyre

Still remember this Dandelion flower in Ice Age?

Latex found in the Dandelion's root

  • A Dutch biotech company is developing dandelions for commercial rubber production
  • The flowers roots contain latex, a potential source of natural rubber
  • The company uses DNA profiling to identify beneficial mutations and "improve" the crop
  • It says its methods are different from GM as it does not introduce genes from other species
Wageningen, The Netherlands (CNN) -- The dandelion's bright yellow bloom and fuzzy, parachute-like seeds are a familiar sight across the continents.
But scientists at Dutch biotech firm KeyGene believe the flower's true beauty could lie beneath the soil.
The dandelion's roots contain latex, the milky liquid that is a source for natural rubber and the origin for the plant's name in a number of languages (the Danish for "dandelion" translates as "milk pot").
Global demand for natural rubber is expected to outstrip supply by 20% by 2020. But KeyGene believes that the dandelion can be developed into an important natural source of the commodity, worth more than $100 billion a year.
The dandelion's roots are smaller than ideal for commercial rubber production. So KeyGene is putting the plant through a process of plant phenotyping in order to develop a variety of dandelion with a fatter root and higher yield, that would be better suited for industrial processing.
We're making and developing a better rubber dandelion, which produces more rubber because of an increased size
KeyGene CEO Arjen Van Tunen
"We are making ... crosses between the Russian dandelion and the common dandelion using those modern DNA profiling technologies," says KeyGene CEO Arjen Van Tunen. "We're making and developing a better rubber dandelion, which produces more rubber because of an increased size."

A dandelion flower head composed of hundreds of smaller florets (top) and seed head (bottom)
Scientific classification
See text
Taraxacum (pron.: /təˈræksəkʉm/) is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide.[1] Both species are edible in their entirety.[2] The common name dandelion(/ˈdændɨl.ən/ dan-di-ly-ən, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seedsasexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.[3]


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