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Crop Biotech Update

MIT Researchers Grow Wood-like Cells in Lab to Streamline Bio-materials Production

January 27, 2021
Photo Source: iStock

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) successfully developed materials made of wood-like plant cells in a lab with the objective of making biomaterials production more efficient than conventional agriculture and forestry.

The researchers extracted live cells from the leaves of a zinnia plant and cultured the cells in a liquid growth medium. This allows the cells to metabolize and multiply. The researchers lure the cells to grow into a rigid and wood-like structure by using a gel mixture of two plant hormones called auxin and cytokinin. They were able to control the cell's production of lignin, an organic polymer responsible for the firmness of the wood, by varying the levels of the two hormones in the gel.

Growing a tree and turning it into wood for industrial purposes is a long and strenuous work. This breakthrough could provide a blueprint for other novel approaches in producing biomaterials thereby easing up the environmental burden of agriculture and forestry.

For more details, read the article in Cleaner Production

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