Latex and Laticifers


Latex is a frequently milky plant exudate, often containing rubber, found in specialized cells called laticifers. Latex from Hevea brasiliensis is commercially important as the source of natural rubber.

Keywords: latex; laticifer; rubber; polyisoprenoid

Figure 1.

Nonarticulated laticifers of Nerium oleander seen by light microscopy. (a) Longitudinal section of stem near shoot apex showing branches of laticifers among parenchyma cells (×200). (b) End of branching laticifer showing intrusive growth among parenchyma cells (×530). (c) Part of a laticifer with several nuclei (×530). Reproduced from Esau K (1965) Plant Anatomy, 2nd edn, p. 676. plate 46D. New York: J Wiley.

Figure 2.

Three‐dimensional diagram of the bark of H. brasiliensis. The sieve tubes that make up the bulk of the soft bark and parenchyma in both soft and hard bark are not shown. The black areas are clusters of stone cells. Reproduced from Riches JP and Gooding EGB (1952) Studies on the physiology of latex 1. Latex flow on tapping – theoretical considerations. New Phytologist51: 1–10.

Figure 3.

Electron micrographs of articulated laticifers of H. brasiliensis. (a) Young latex vessel in secondary phloem of green stem (×9000). (b) Part of mature latex vessel in tapped bark (×30 000). Key: L, lutoid particles; M, mitochondria; FW, Frey‐Wyssling particles; R, rubber particle; CW, cell wall. Reproduced from Gomez JB and Moir GFJ (1979) The Ultra Cytology of Latex Vessels in Hevea brasiliensis. Monograph No. 4, pp. 9, 13, 28. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysian Rubber Research & Development Board.

Figure 4.

The biosynthesis of rubber from acetyl–coenzyme A. Reprinted from Kekwick RGO (1989) The formation of Polysoprenoids in Hevea Latex. In: Physiology of Rubber Tree Latex. d'Auzac J et al. (eds). Copyright © 1989 CRC Press, Florida.



Archer BL and Audley BG (1987) Some new aspects of rubber biosynthesis. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 94: 181–196.

Backhaus RA (1985) Rubber formation in plants; a mini‐review. Israel Journal of Botany 34: 283–293.

Cornish K (1993) The roles of cis and trans prenyl transferases in polyisoprene biosynthesis. European Journal of Biochemistry 218: 267–271.

Metcalfe CR (1967) Distribution of latex in the plant kingdom. Economic Botany 21: 115–127.

Rudall PJ (1987) Lacticifers in Euphorbiaceae – a conspectus. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 94: 143–163.

Tangpakdee J, Tanaka Y, Ogura K et al. (1997) Rubber formation by fresh bottom fraction latex. Phytochemistry 45: 269–274.

Further Reading

Archer BL and Audley B (1967) Biosynthesis of rubber. Advances in Enzymology 29: 221–257.

d'Auzac J, Jacob J and Chrestin H (eds) (1989) Physiology of Rubber Tree Latex. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Esau K (1965) Plant Anatomy, 2nd edn. New York: J Wiley.

Fahn A (1979) Secretory Tissues in Plants. London: Academic Press.

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How to Cite close
Kekwick, Roy GO(Jan 2002) Latex and Laticifers. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000913]