Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2008
Publication Date: 7/22/2008
Citation: Puskas, J.E., Li, H., Lindsay, A., Deffieux, A., Peruch, F., Mcmahan, C.M., Xie, W. 2008. Unraveling the Mystery of Natural Rubber Biosynthesis. Proceedings of the International Latex Conference Meeting, Independence, OH, July 22-23, 2008. p. 192-194. Interpretive Summary: The USDA’s Domestic Natural Rubber project, aimed at developing natural rubber-producing crops in the USA, is collaborating with The University of Akron (Ohio) in an NSF funded project on rubber biosynthesis. National Science Foundation funding (NSF-CHE-0616834) was secured (Puskas, PI, McMahan, co-PI) for “Novel Processes for the Synthesis of Polyisoprene and Polyisoprene-Polyisobutylene Block and Graft Copolymers based on Natural Rubber Biosynthesis”. The CRC (Collaborative Research in Chemistry) GOALIE program includes international (Prof. Alain Deffieux, France, Prof. Herbert Mayr, Germany) and industrial (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company) participation. Natural rubber has outstanding properties which have never been duplicated by synthetics. One reason may be the almost-perfect stereochemistry of rubber produced by the rubber transferase enzyme. The research collaborators recently proposed that NR biosynthesis proceeds via a carbocationic polymerization mechanism. Based on this theory, a general mechanism termed “Natural Living Carbocationic Polymerization” (NCLP) was developed.
Technical Abstract: Natural rubber (NR) is primarily obtained from Hevea brasiliensis, commonly known as the Brazilian rubber tree. As this species contains little genetic variation, it is susceptible to pathogen-based eradication. Consequently, it is imperative that a biomimetic pathway for NR production be developed. Puskas et al. recently proposed that NR biosynthesis proceeds via a carbocationic polymerization mechanism. Based on this theory, a general mechanism termed “Natural Living Carbocationic Polymerization” (NLCP) was developed. Central to the mechanism is an allylic carbocation active species that reacts exclusively with a “protected” monomer.