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Phytochemistry. 2009 Apr;70(6):730-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.03.020. Epub 2009 May 4.

The leaf, inner bark and latex cyanide potential of Hevea brasiliensis: evidence for involvement of cyanogenic glucosides in rubber yield.

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  • 1Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


The latex of Hevea brasiliensis, expelled upon bark tapping, is the cytoplasm of anastomosed latex cells in the inner bark of the rubber tree. Latex regeneration between two tappings is one of the major limiting factors of rubber yield. Hevea species contain high amounts of cyanogenic glucosides from which cyanide is released when the plant is damaged providing an efficient defense mechanism against herbivores. In H. brasiliensis, the cyanogenic glucosides mainly consist of the monoglucoside linamarin (synthesized in the leaves), and its diglucoside transport-form, linustatin. Variations in leaf cyanide potential (CNp) were studied using various parameters. Results showed that the younger the leaf, the higher the CNp. Leaf CNp greatly decreased when leaves were directly exposed to sunlight. These results allowed us to determine the best leaf sampling conditions for the comparison of leaf CNp. Under these conditions, leaf CNp was found to vary from less than 25 mM to more than 60 mM. The rubber clones containing the highest leaf CNp were those with the highest yield potential. In mature virgin trees, the CNp of the trunk inner bark was shown to be proportional to leaf CNp and to decrease on tapping. However, the latex itself exhibited very low (if any) CNp, while harboring all the enzymes (beta-D-diglucosidase, linamarase and beta-cyanoalanine synthase) necessary to metabolize cyanogenic glucosides to generate non-cyanogenic compounds, such as asparagine. This suggests that in the rubber tree bark, cyanogenic glucosides may be a source of buffering nitrogen and glucose, thereby contributing to latex regeneration/production.

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