Looking for Benefits in Weed Species
Burke: “So we just self-plant multiple generations and now we are trying to pick out traits that would better for the prickly lettuce as a crop. So we want to have seed that is set very late or we don’t want to have the seed be wind-borne. We want it to produce high-quality rubber and lots of it. So now we are trying to advance it into a breeding program to select for those kind of traits.”
As well as providing an another option for cash crop for farmers, prickly lettuce has a an additional and unique benefit as a rubber source as Burke explains.
Burke: “Prickly lettuce rubber is hypoallergenic. People have a lot of allergies to natural rubber. So there is potential for using prickly lettuce rubber for pharmaceutical products.”