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Microbial communities in natural rubber coagula during maturation: Impacts on technological properties of dry natural rubber

Salomez M., Subileau M., Vallaeys T., Santoni S., Bonfils F., Sainte-Beuve J., Intapun J., Granet F., Vaysse L., Dubreucq E.. 2018. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 124 (2) : p. 444-456.

DOI: 10.1111/jam.13661

Aim: To characterize microbial communities present in natural rubber (NR) coagula from Hevea brasiliensis latex during maturation and identify microbial taxa (bacteria and fungi) having an impact on dry NR properties. Methods and Results: Microbial community dynamics in NR coagula maturated under controlled conditions were compared and related with the evolution of dry NR properties. The pyrosequencing of 16S (119 837 effective reads) and 18S (131 879 effective reads) rRNA gene regions was performed on 21 samples covering different maturation times and two aeration conditions. Results showed a relatively high bacterial richness (Chao1 estimates of 200¿1000) associated with significant bacterial dynamics. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were dominant in the first days of maturation. Then, in aerobic conditions, development of Actinobacteria represented by the family Microbacteriaceae was associated with alkalinization of the samples and a higher sensitivity of NR to thermo-oxidation as evaluated by its plasticity retention index (PRI). In anaerobiosis, the reduced development of bacteria, mostly LAB present, was associated with improved NR properties (higher initial plasticity P0 and PRI). Conclusions: The involvement of micro-organisms in the evolution of dry NR properties during the maturation of NR coagula was confirmed. The importance of the structure and dynamics of microbial communities is specifically highlighted. Significance and Impact of the Study: Natural rubber is a key elastomer for the tyre industry and for a variety of other applications. The majority of raw NR is obtained by natural coagulation of H. brasiliensis latex under the activity of micro-organisms. An improved understanding of the microbial communities involved in the maturation of NR coagula may lead to an improvement in the production process of raw NR to provide a better consistency in NR quality.

Mots-clés : hevea brasiliensis; caoutchouc; flore microbienne; coagulation; maturation; propriété physicochimique; propriété mécanique; propriété technologique

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