The guayule industry moved forward this week as PanAridus company officials announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Variety Protection Office has granted the company eight new plant variety patents, certifying that the company has invented and reproduced eight 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 guayule yields almost identical polymers, which can be used for tires, tubes, medical devices and gloves. The industry has struggled for decades trying to unlock the genetic secrets to producing higher yields to make guayule profitable for farmers to grow and offset the demand-induced global shortfall by the end of the decade. The U.S. government and domestic tire companies have been interested in guayule as the nation must now import all its supply of natural rubber from tropical regions where the Hevea tree grows with tire companies consuming between 60-65% of all imports.
PanAridus CEO Mike Fraley called the eight 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 utilizing less water is central to the effort,” he said.