TOKYO (Feb. 22, 2016) — Bridgestone Corp. claims its researchers, in cooperation with Indonesian authorities and university researchers, have developed a technique for identifying a disease that threatens to decimate trees that are the primary source for natural rubber used in tires and other rubber applications.
The target of the research is “white root rot disease,” which is caused by Rigidoporus microporus, a type of filamentous fungi that affects para rubber trees. By infecting the root and destroying its system, the disease causes the para rubber tree to wither, Bridgestone said.
Early detection of the disease is difficult, the tire maker said, and there currently is no fundamental countermeasure for the disease.
When an outbreak occurs, the diseased area of the tree is cut off and the portion of the tree that remains is treated with drugs.
In Southeast Asia, where more than 90 percent of the world's natural rubber is grown, white root rot disease is spreading due to pathogens in the soil. Since the disease can be identified only by visual inspection, detection accuracy is low.
Visual inspections can only be performed by digging into the soil around the tree. The complexity is time-consuming and often leads to late detections and misdiagnoses, causing damage from the disease to spread.