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**Latex in Biology**:
Latex is an emulsion of polymer microparticles in water.
– It is found in nature and in synthetic forms.
– Present in 10% of all flowering plants.
– Consists of various substances like proteins, alkaloids, and resins.
– Serves as a defense against herbivorous insects.
– Produced by 20,000 flowering plant species.
– Found in 14% of tropical plant species and 6% of temperate species.
– Fungi like Lactarius deliciosus also produce latex.
Latex production is a result of convergent evolution.
– Selected for its defense function in many plant species.

– Articulated laticifers form latex vessels in plants like rubber trees.
– Found in poppy, Euphorbiaceae, and Asteraceae families.
– Guayule plant and Taraxacum kok-saghyz produce latex.
– Made of many cells.
– Present in commercial latex-producing plants.
– Non-articulated laticifers in milkweed and spurge families are different.
Latex cells differentiate early in seedling development.
– Descended from a single cell in the embryo.
– Laticiferous system extends throughout the plant.
Latex can be white, clear, yellow, or red in different plants.

**Latex’s Defense Function**:
– Protects plants from herbivores.
– Contains high concentrations of defense substances.
– Actively moves to the injury site.
– Clotting property traps insects.
– Supported by empirical evidence.

**Allergic Reactions**:
– Some experience mild reactions like eczema or contact dermatitis when exposed to latex.
– Serious latex allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock.
– Guayule latex has lower allergen levels compared to Hevea latex.
– Chemical processes can reduce antigenic protein in Hevea latex.
– About half of spina bifida patients are allergic to natural latex.

**Microbial Degradation**:
– Actinomycetes, Streptomyces, Nocardia, Micromonospora, and Actinoplanes can consume rubber latex.
– Biodegradation rate of rubber latex by microbes is slow.
– Bacteria utilizing rubber as a carbon source grow slowly.

Latex (Wikipedia)

Latex is an emulsion (stable dispersion) of polymer microparticles in water. Latexes are found in nature, but synthetic latexes are common as well.

Tapping of latex from a tree, for use in rubber production

In nature, latex is found as a milky fluid, which is present in 10% of all flowering plants (angiosperms). It is a complex emulsion that coagulates on exposure to air, consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums. It is usually exuded after tissue injury. In most plants, latex is white, but some have yellow, orange, or scarlet latex. Since the 17th century, latex has been used as a term for the fluid substance in plants, deriving from the Latin word for "liquid". It serves mainly as defense against herbivorous insects. Latex is not to be confused with plant sap; it is a distinct substance, separately produced, and with different functions.

The word latex is also used to refer to natural latex rubber, particularly non-vulcanized rubber. Such is the case in products like latex gloves, latex condoms, latex clothing, and balloons.

IUPAC definition for latex
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