Natural Rubber and Resin 

Division Chair:       Hussein Abdel-Haleem

                                 USDA-ARS Arid-Land Agricultural ResearchCenter
                                 21881 North Cardon Lane
                                 Maricopa, Arizona, USA 85138 
                                 Phone: 520-316-6355 
                                 Fax: 520-316-6330

Scope of the Division:

The scope of the division is to conduct research and development in support of industrial natural rubber and resin-producing crops. The members of the division work in various disciplines, including germplasm development, cultivation and agronomic practices, and industrial processing technologies. The chemical, physical, and biological properties of this important class of natural products are defined and documented. Biotechnological approaches to crop improvement and product utilization are studied. Research performed ranges from fundamental mechanisms to support of product commercialization.

Natural rubber is polyisoprene, usually of high molecular weight, produced by biosynthesis in plants. This natural product has been used since Mesoamerican games played with rubber balls as early as 1600 BC, and today is a critical raw material in thousands of industrial products. Supplied to the world primarily by Hevea brasiliensis from tropical countries, rubber from alternative crops has been used worldwide during times of short supply.  In the 21st century, rubber-producing crops offer opportunities for rural economic development, supply security of a strategic raw material, and biobased replacements for petroleum-based polymers.

Crops Investigated:

Parthenium argentatum – guayule
Taraxacum kok-saghyz – Russian dandelion
Hevea brasiliensis – Brazilian rubber tree
Lactuca spp. – lettuce
Eucommia ulmoides - Chinese elm