Bridgestone collaboration with NRGene achieves new milestones in assembly of multiple guayule genomes; alternative to natural rubber
Bridgestone Corporation announced results of its four-year collaboration with genomic big data solutions company NRGene to advance the commercialization of guayule, an alternative to natural rubber, as part of the effort to diversify its sources of raw materials. The combined effort focused on analyzing DNA to allow more efficient use of inherent genetic diversity to breed highly productive varieties of guayule.
Native to the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, guayule is a shrub capable of producing natural rubber and can grow on marginal farmland with minimal fertilizer inputs. Guayule has the physical and genetic characteristics of a desert plant, successfully tolerating arid environments and making its demand for water lower than other commercial crops grown in the region. This is important since dwindling water resources in the Southwest US are demanding that agriculture find ways to reduce water usage and guayule could be a solution.
Utilizing NRGene’s DeNovoMAGIC system, scientists at Bridgestone and NRGene have successfully assembled a specific guayule genome. This achievement provided a complete description of the genome sequence and all its genes, allowing for the use of additional genomic diversity in the identification of the genetic basis for important traits such as rubber percentage.
Furthermore, Bridgestone developed mapping populations that allowed NRGene to construct a genetic and physical map by successfully identifying the correct order of DNA fragments. These maps enable Bridgestone to use the information contained in the genetic code to assist in its breeding efforts. The joint work was successful in constructing pseudochromosomes (i.e. molecules that contain most of the information of the chromosomes) using an approach that combines multiple genomes, marking a historic milestone in guayule research.
The collaboration between Bridgestone and NRGene will provide important advances for the future of the automotive and rubber industries. The combination of our previous work with the sequencing and assembly of the hevea genome and our current work with guayule uniquely positions Bridgestone to utilize these resources for comparative genetic analysis of the rubber biosynthetic pathways and become a leader in the genetics and improvement of rubber-producing plants.—William Niaura, director, Innovation, Bridgestone Americas