Biotech Updates

Crops as Plastic Biofactories

May 2, 2008

Australian scientists from the Crop Biofactories Initiative (CBI) achieved a major advance by developing Arabidopsis plants accumulating up to 30 percent of an unusual fatty acid (UFA). UFAs are source of petrochemicals that are used in production of  plastics, paints and cosmetics.

With the potential of plants to produce high levels of UFAs, 'greener' oils sourced from plants could eventually replace petrochemicals in plastic production. According to Dr. Allan Green, crop development team leader of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the use of crops as ‘biofactories’ can open up more opportunities for bio-based products. “We are confident we have the right genes, an understanding of the biosynthesis pathways and the right breeding skills to produce an oilseed plant with commercially viable UFA levels in the near future,” he added.

The CBI is a 12-year project jointly funded by CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) which aims to produce novel industrial compounds from genetically modified oilseed crops.

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