The genome of the rubber tree has revealed a group of genes that may drive the plant's unique ability to produce vast amounts of rubber.
Scientists had previously released a draft sequence, but Chaorong Tang at the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences in Danzhou and his colleagues now report a more complete genome sequence for the plant (Hevea brasiliensis; pictured). Four members of the REF/SRPP gene family, which are thought to be involved in rubber synthesis, were among the most highly expressed genes in latex, the white fluid from which natural rubber is obtained. The researchers also identified more than 500 genes that respond to ethylene, a plant hormone known to stimulate rubber production.
These findings could help to guide efforts to breed higher-yield versions of the commercially important plant, the authors say.
Nature Plants http://doi.org/bhwn (2016)