Bridgestone Americas and NRGene, a genomic big data solutions company, have partnered to research efforts to enhance the company’s alternative domestic natural rubber breeding program in the U.S.
The companies will work together to sequence and assemble multiple genomes of guayule, a rubber-producing plant indigenous to the southwestern U.S. and north central Mexico, to develop new varieties. Two of the first-ever guayule genomes have already been sequenced and assembled. A physical and genetic map are in development to 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 for Bridgestone Americas. “This will quickly bring the most advanced molecular breeding capabilities previously found only in advanced row crops to guayule, an undomesticated species.”
NRGene’s DeNovoMAGICTM 3.0 develops high-quality genome assemblies of multiple varieties of guayule to uncover and utilize the genetic variation in the species. The genome assemblies also will allow for potential acceleration of genetic gains by reducing the time for selection cycles of important traits including overall rubber yield.
Bridgestone has a team of scientists working to improve guayule production through breeding and genetics, agronomy and working with growers. NRGene tools have already been employed by seed companies worldwide as well as influential research teams in academia.
“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.”