In news- The world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant was planted on the outskirts of Guwahati, Assam.
About the tree-
- It has been developed at the Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).
- The GM rubber plant, the first of its kind, is developed exclusively for the northeast and is expected to thrive in the climatic conditions of the region.
- This is the first time any GM crop is developed exclusively for this region.
- The plant has additional copies of the gene MnSOD (manganese containing superoxide dismutase) in it.
- The MnSOD gene has the ability to protect plants from the adverse effects of severe environmental stresses such as cold, drought, etc…and low and high temperatures as well as high light intensity.
- The new crop is expected to cut short the maturity period of rubber, indicating chances for early yielding as well.
- As natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited for cold conditions in the northeast, the plant is expected to tide over severe cold conditions during winters.
- Commercial planting would be taken up later, depending on the results of the experiments conducted at the farm.
- As there are no plant species in India that can breed with natural rubber, there is no risk of genes flowing from the GM rubber into any other native species.
- Though different from Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), GM Rubber is the second genetically modified crop to start field trials in India after Bt. Cotton.
- Rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, caucho consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds, plus water.
- Currently, rubber is harvested mainly in the form of the latex from the rubber tree which is a sticky, milky and white colloid drawn off by making incisions in the bark
- The latex then is refined into rubber that is ready for commercial processing.
- Rubber has a large stretch ratio and high resilience, and also is water-proof.
- India is the third largest natural rubber producing country of the world, next to Thailand and Indonesia, producing about 9 per cent of the global output.
In India almost the entire rubber is produced in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.