Feeds

Germans satisfy latex desire with GM dandelions

No more uncomfortable rashes - fungus plague forestalled

SANS - Survey on application security programs

German boffins have worked out a much improved method of making latex using the sticky white fluid which comes out of dandelion stems. The new breakthough could mean more comfortable body-cavity searches, an end to itchy condoms, and might free humanity from the threat posed by a global rubber fungus epidemic.

According (pdf page 5) to top rubber experts at Germany's famed Fraunhofer Institutes, any fule kno that natural rubber comes out of dandelion stems. Indeed, when latex products were vitally necessary for the war effort during the mass military mobilisation of World War Two, various combatant nations fell back on the sticky white sap as a source of extra supplies.

However, the sticky dandelion latex is difficult to harvest properly as it polymerises - turns gummy - as soon as air hits it. Thus to date the normal source of supply has been rubber plants in South America and Southeast Asia. Latex from these trees flows rather than turning sticky at once, and so is easier to collect.

But tree rubber can cause painful allergic reactions such as itchiness or rashes, which as the Fraunhofer brainboxes note "is clearly an issue with clinical products" - for instance cavity-search gloves or prophylactics. Not to mention the specialist recreational apparel popular in certain circles.

Worse, a deadly global pandemic of fungus has already largely eradicated the rubber farms of Latin America, and is now beginning to devastate the plantations of Malaysia et al.

"If the fungus disease was to reach epidemic proportions," warn the German scientists, "experts fear that the natural latex industry could collapse".

But have no fear. Premier-league dandelion rubber boffin Professor Doktor Dirk Prüfer of the Fraunhofer-Instituts für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie has the answer.

“We have identified the enzyme responsible for the rapid polymerization and have switched it off,” he says. “If the plant is cut, the latex flows out instead of being polymerized. We obtain four to five times the amount we would normally. If the plants were to be cultivated on a large scale, every hectare would produce 500 to 1000 kilograms of latex per growing season.”

Better still, the unsticky weed-sap rubber apparently doesn't cause any painful itching or redness as the normal sort can.

Fields of Doktor Prüfer's genetically modified dandelions, then, could produce tons of lovely allergy-free rubber no matter what happens in terms of globo-fungus pandemics. As a fringe benefit, it seems they also produce significant quantities of artificial sweetener. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.