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Yulex and Univ. of Arizona team up to study guayule rubber

Yulex Corporation, an agricultural-based biomaterials company, will provide the University of Arizona (UA) a $3 million, 5-year grant focused on breeding and agronomic development of Guayule for the production biorubber of medical, consumer and industrial applications.

Yulex and the University of Arizona will apply classical breeding along with modern tools for marker assisted breeding to Guayule lines to select traits for the crop improvement program. University of Arizona’s Dr. Dennis Ray, a Guayule expert, will lead the effort to produce a higher yielding rubber crop and to substantially decrease Guayule’s harvest cycle time.

The UA has supported Phoenix-based Yulex since the company’s inception. Yulex’s first experimental crops were planted on the grounds of the campus, and the University substantially contributed to Yulex’s agronomic development successes.

Guayule is an industrial crop that does not compete against food or fiber crops. It is a renewable source of natural rubber latex that can replace petroleum-based synthetics, lessen reliance on imported tropical rubber, and requires relatively little water with no pesticides.

Jeff Martin, chief executive officer, president and co-founder of Yulex, said, “The University has some of the best breeders in the world and this grant will enable the most comprehensive breeding program ever undertaken. Yulex’s extensive research and development in plant breeding, agronomic best practices and harvest technologies are fundamental to the continued advancement of guayule as a new industrial crop and to the expansion of our global licensing program.”