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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improvement and Utilization of Natural Rubber- and Castor Oil-producing Industrial Crops

Location: Bioproducts Research

Title: Ericameria Nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush): a complementary rubber feedstock to augment the guayule rubber production stream

Authors
item Shintani, David -
item Hathwaik, Upul -
item Miller, Glenn -
item Robbins, Curtis -
item McMahan, Colleen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 10, 2012
Publication Date: December 15, 2012
Citation: Shintani, D., Hathwaik, U., Miller, G., Robbins, C., Mcmahan, C.M. 2012. Ericameria Nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush): a complementary rubber feedstock to augment the guayule rubber production stream [abstract]. Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops (AAIC) November 12-15, 2012, Sonoma, California.

Technical Abstract: Ericameria nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush) is a highly prolific desert shrub that produces high quality natural rubber. Over the past several years we have investigated rabbitbrush’s potential as a commercial rubber feedstock. Like guayule, rabbitbrush produces natural rubber within its bark tissues and can be harvested for latex and solid rubber. As such, it may be possible to use rabbitbrush as a drop-in replacement in guayule rubber extraction facilities. Several properties of rabbitbrush make this prospect particularly attractive. First, rabbitbrush has a large geographic range spanning the Mexican and Canadian borders of the Western United States, greatly expanding the acreage for rubber feedstock production. Second, because rabbitbrush rubber yields are highest in the summer instead of the winter like guayule, rabbitbrush could supply idle guayule rubber extraction plants during the off season. Third, in addition to rubber, rabbitbrush produces high levels of terpenoid resins and lignocellulosic biomass that could be used as bioenergy co-products. Finally, rabbitbrush thrives in saline and alkaline soils with very low water requirements under both high and low temperature extremes. As such rabbitbrush can be used to bring land previously viewed as unarable into commercial production. While rabbitbrush is currently a wild species, because of its high genetic diversity and diploid genome, rapid genetic improvement should be possible using modern marker assisted breeding approaches. In total, rabbitbrush provides a potential feedstock that could augment production at guayule rubber extraction facilities and increase North American rubber acreage without competing with traditional food crops for resources.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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