Bridgestone and NRGene look to revolutionize the rubber industry

Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) and NRGene are collaborating on research efforts to enhance the company’s U.S. alternative domestic natural rubber breeding program. Bridgestone Americas, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. NRGene is a genomic big data company delivering cutting-edge software and algorithms to reveal the complexity and diversity of humans, plants and animals and support the most advanced and sophisticated breeding and research programs. The two companies have come together to create a collaboration in order to sequence and assemble guayule genome to provide enough latex to create a new rubber production industry within the US borders.

The two will be working in tandem to sequence and assemble multiple genomes of guayule, a rubber-producing plant indigenous to the hot, dry environments of the Southwestern United States and North Central Mexico, to develop new, high-yielding varieties. The first-ever two guayale genomes have already been sequenced and completely assembled, and a physical and genetic map are being developed that will provide a high level of accuracy and efficiency for breeding improvement.

Bridgestone is committed to developing a sustainable guayule natural rubber industry in North America for tire production. They have a team of scientists working to improve productivity of the crop through breeding and genetics, agronomy and working with growers.

“We are looking forward to utilizing NRGene’s capabilities and experience in agricultural genome analytics to move our guayule breeding program to a new level that will ultimately benefit our customers and society,” said Nizar Trigui, Chief Technology Officer of Bridgestone Americas. “This will quickly bring the most advanced molecular breeding capabilities previously found only in advanced row crops to guayule, an undomesticated species.”

NRGene’s DeNovoMAGICTM 3.0 will develop high-quality, comprehensive genome assemblies of multiple varieties of guayule to uncover and utilize the genetic variation in the species. NRGene tools have already been employed by some of the leading seed companies worldwide as well as the most influential research teams in academia.

“Rubber is critical to every aspect of our lives, from tires to medical devices,” says Dr. Gil Ronen, CEO of NRGene. “Sustainable use of our natural resources is always a key concern, so this represents a major step forward. With more insights into guayule, Bridgestone will be able to increase rubber yields while reducing the resource requirements.”

The Bridgestone Group’s global corporate social responsibility commitment, “Our Way to Serve,” reflects the company’s long standing philosophy of Serving Society with Superior Quality and its recognition that the best companies not only perform for their stakeholders, but also contribute to a better world. Guided by

“Our Way to Serve,” Bridgestone recently announced a new Global Sustainable Procurement Policy to help identify and evaluate qualified suppliers, promote best practices and serve as a communication and improvement tool for the industry. The policy applies to all suppliers and all purchased materials and services, including natural rubber, and aligns with Bridgestone’s goal of using 100 percent sustainable materials by 2050.