Plants with Allergen-Free Latex Now Easier to Genetically Engineer
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
May 26, 1999
Marcia Wood, (510) 559-6070, email@example.com
Guayule, a shrub that yields high-quality, hypoallergenic natural latex, is
now easier to genetically engineer, thanks to Agricultural Research Service
Native to Texas, guayule (pronounced why-YOU-lee) can be processed to yield
a milky latex that is free of allergens that can cause severe reactions
including anaphylactic shock. An estimated 20 million Americans are allergic
to the latex in gloves, condoms and other products made from the most widely
used source, the Brazilian rubber tree.
ARS plant physiologist Katrina Cornish leads the guayule research at the ARS
Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.
Cornish, along with Christopher J.D. Mau and Mary H. Chapman at Albany, and
former Albany researcher Javier Castillón, developed a faster, easier way to
move new genes into guayule. Their work opens the way to giving tomorrow's
guayule new genes that could boost production of latex, or enhance
resistance to a root rot that can attack this otherwise disease-resistant
The scientists' procedure, patterned after one widely used by researchers
elsewhere with other plant species, relies on bathing pieces of guayule
leaves in a solution containing a re-worked form of a microbe, Agrobacterium
tumefaciens. The microbe, with the experimental genes inside, can slip genes
into guayule cells. The leaf pieces are then nurtured to form plantlets.
Cornish's team is apparently the first to use this approach successfully
with guayule. An article in the current issue of ARS' Agricultural Research
magazine tells more. View it on the World Wide Web at:
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief research agency.
Scientific contact: Katrina Cornish, ARS Western Regional Research Center,
Albany, Calif., phone (510) 559-5950, fax (510) 559-5777,
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