Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Rubber from dandelions / Scientists identify key components in the formation of rubber


How is the rubber contained in a dandelion’s milky white fluid formed? A team led by scientists from Münster University and from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, IME, (Münster branch), has now identified proteins which play a key role in the production of rubber in the plant.

Dandelions are robust and undemanding plants – from which a desirable product can be extracted: rubber. This is why dandelions have increasingly become the focus of attention of the rubber-producing industry. But how is rubber, contained in the plant’s white milky fluid, actually formed?

From dandelions a desirable product can be extracted: rubber.

WWU/Peter Grewer

There has not been any complete answer to this question yet, but a team headed by Münster University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME (Münster branch), has now identified proteins which play a key role in the production of rubber in the plant.

The milky fluid containing the rubber is produced in special cells in the dandelion. What is responsible for the formation – the biosynthesis – of the rubber is a protein complex located on the surface of so-called rubber particles. These globular particles are filled with polyisoprene, the main component of rubber, and are surrounded by a protective coating.

As the researchers have been able to demonstrate, using the example of Russian dandelion, there is one special protein (a so-called rubber transferase activator) which plays a key role. If the formation of the protein is prevented – in other words, if it is non-existent in the plant – then no rubber is formed. The scientists assume that the protein is necessary for the formation of the rubber-producing protein complex.

Their results have been published in the current online issue of the specialist journal "Nature Plants". Scientists from Munich Technical University and from York, in England, were also involved in the work. A second study, which was likewise carried out with substantial input from researchers from IME and Münster University, identifies a further important protein which plays a key role in the formation of the long polyisoprene chains. These so-called polymers give the rubber its typical properties – its elasticity and resilience.

"Dandelions have become well-known recently in particular as a result of applied research," explains head of research Dr. Christian Schulze Gronover (IME, Münster branch). "Now we are pleased to have some news again from the field of basic research: we have been able to identify no fewer than two key components of rubber biosynthesis."

It has not so far been possible to manufacture natural rubber by biotechnological means. But the possibility has been brought a step closer, say the researchers, as a result of the identification of key components in rubber synthesis. Dandelion plants which produce no rubber could also in future be used in laboratory experiments in order to find out what the role of rubber in the plants is. According to one idea under discussion, for example, it provides protection against pathogenic agents.

As Dr. Dirk Prüfer, Professor of the Biotechnology of Plants at Münster University and head of the Functional and Applied Genomics department at the IME in Münster, points out: "We were only able to achieve these research results through effective collaboration between IME and Münster University – in other words, through the intelligent linking of applications-oriented and basic research. We hope to be able to continue to expand on this model for success."

Original publications:

Janina Epping, Nicole van Deenen, Eva Niephaus, Anna Stolze, Julia Fricke, Claudia Huber, Wolfgang Eisenreich, Richard M. Twyman, Dirk Prüfer and Christian Schulze Gronover (2015): A rubber transferase activator is necessary for natural rubber biosynthesis in dandelion. Nature Plants, Advance Online Publication; DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2015.48

Natalie Laibach, Andrea Hillebrand, Richard M. Twyman, Dirk Prüfer and Christian Schulze Gronover (2015): Identification of a Taraxacum brevicorniculatum rubber elongation factor protein that is localized on rubber particles and promotes rubber biosynthesis. The Plant Journal, Advance Online Publication; DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12836

This is a concerted press release from Münster University and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME. At IME, please contact Sabine Dzuck (phone: +49 241 6085-13354; mobile: +49 173 304 5723; mail:

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Generation of a Stable Biradical
22.03.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>