The common dandelion's roots are too small to be viable for commercial production, so KeyGene is developing a Russian/common dandelion cross by DNA profiling. This should reinforce the root stock and increase latex levels, according to the company.
The process involves analyzing different specimens in a greenhouse setting, looking for mutations, then isolating the genetic material that improves yield and tolerance to environmental stresses and disease.
The firm has been involved in cross breeding the Russian dandelion with the common dandelion, using DNA profiling technologies. KeyGene stressed that its method represents a quicker and more economical way of crop improvement than genetic modification.
"We don't introduce a gene from a different species into our crops," said Arjen Van Tunen, KeyGene CEO. He pointed out that the company works "without crossing the species barriers." The team works with the DNA in the species itself, mimicking normal evolution by natural selection.
The company has posted on its website a video from CNN about "tires from dandelions."
This report appeared in European Rubber Journal, a UK-based sister publication of Tire Business.