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2-plants: Plants with allergen-free latex now easier to genetically engineer

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TITLE:  Plants with allergen-free latex now easier to genetically         engineer
DATE:   May 26, 1999

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Plants with allergen-free latex now easier to genetically

Guayule, a shrub that yields high-quality, hypoallergenic natural
latex, is now easier to genetically engineer, thanks to
Agricultural Research Service scientists. Native to Texas,
guayule (pronounced why-YOU-lee) can be processed to yield a
milky latex that is free of allergens that can cause severe
reactions including anaphylactic shock. An estimated 20 million
Americans are allergic to the latex in gloves, condoms and other
products made from the most widely used source, the Brazilian
rubber tree. ARS plant physiologist Katrina Cornish leads the
guayule research at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in
Albany, Calif. Cornish, along with Christopher J.D. Mau and Mary
H. Chapman at Albany, and former Albany researcher Javier
Castillsn, developed a faster, easier way to move new genes into
guayule. Their work opens the way to giving tomorrow's guayule
new genes that could boost production of latex, or enhance
resistance to a root rot that can attack this otherwise disease
resistant shrub. The scientists' procedure, patterned after one
widely used by researchers elsewhere with other plant species,
relies on bathing pieces of guayule leaves in a solution
containing a re-worked form of a microbe, Agrobacterium
tumefaciens. The microbe, with the experimental genes inside, can
slip genes into guayule cells. The leaf pieces are then nurtured
to form plantlets.

Cornish's team is apparently the first to use this approach
successfully with guayule. An article in the current issue of
ARS' Agricultural Research magazine tells more. View it on the
World Wide Web at:
rubb0599.htm ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
research agency.


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-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
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-| Germany
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