Bridgestone said the grant from the U.S. DOE Joint Genome Institute—one of many the company has received from various sources for its work in this area—will be funneled toward research in increasing the rubber content of the plant.
The grant will be used to "sequence and map genes of three guayule varieties" at a processing and research center in Mesa, Ariz., as well as a 281-acre farm in Eloy, Ariz.
Facilities and farms in California, New Mexico and in Italy also will serve as research sites, Bridgestone said.
Bridgestone said the research is in line with its mission statements of commercializing the use of guayule in tire manufacturing by 2030; and using 100-percent renewable materials company-wide by 2050.
The company has poured more than $100 million into this research, and produced the world's first tire from guayule-derived rubber in 2015.
See our comprehensive coverage of sustainability in the rubber industry.
"Currently, Bridgestone is expanding the number of local farmers it works with in Central Arizona, who are working to convert their farmland to harvest guayule, which has served as a solution to previously failing crops due to growing water shortages affecting the environment," Bridgestone said in a March 30 statement. "Through this collaboration with local farmers, 200 new acres of guayule are expected to be planted this year."
Bridgestone shifted to less water-intensive crops for its rubber research after it reached an agreement with the Environmental Defense Fund, which monitors water shortage in the Colorado River, which is used for irrigation in Central Arizona.
"Through efforts like its investment in guayule, Bridgestone will continue to evolve technological innovations by combining its unique rubber knowledge with digital technologies and will co-create value through the work with various partners," the company said.