Micro-organisms in latex and natural rubber coagula of Hevea brasiliensis and their impact on rubber composition, structure and properties



Natural rubber, produced by coagulation of the latex from the tree Hevea brasiliensis, is an important biopolymer used in many applications for its outstanding properties. Besides polyisoprene, latex is rich in many nonisoprene components such as carbohydrates, proteins and lipids and thereby constitutes a favourable medium for the development of micro-organisms. The fresh rubber coagula obtained by latex coagulation are not immediately processed, allowing the development of various microbial communities. The time period between tree tapping and coagula processing is called maturation, during which an evolution of the properties of the corresponding dry natural rubber occurs. This evolution is partly related to the activity of micro-organisms and to the modification of the biochemical composition. This review synthesizes the current knowledge on microbial populations in latex and natural rubber coagula of H. brasiliensis and the changes they induce on the biochemistry and technical properties of natural rubber during maturation.