Tyre manufacturers such as Bridgestone don’t just work hard to design and manufacture cheap tyres, their research actually starts right at the beginning of the process with the Hevea brasiliensis tree which is the source of natural rubber. Bridgestone Tyres have recently been looking into alternatives to this source of rubber, as well as optimising the tree’s productivity.
Brdgestone have been working on molecular breeding. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it means breeding new plants by using your knowledge of the plant’s genetic information. As part of this process, Bridgestone have actually decoded the main genome sequence for the Hevea brasiliensis tree.
This data may seem like something that is only of use to scientific types, but in actual fact it is likely to enable better breeding and growing technologies to be developed for the tree. Any improvement in the yield and quality of the natural rubber will eventually filter down into improved quality rubber for tyres, and even more excitingly – cheap tyres!