Weaving warmth

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Agracetus, a company in Middle town, Wisconsin, US , has genetically engineered cotton plants to produce fibres containing granules of plastic for making ultrawarm winter wear, carpets and insulation material. Maliyakal John of Agracetus injected cotton plants with genes from Alcaligenes eutrophus , a bacterium that makes a biodegradable plastic called poly-hydroxybutyrate. Along with a gene called pha A that occurs naturally in plants, the A eutrophus genes enable the cotton plants to make plastic. Plants use pha A to make a range of proteins related to energy metabolism. This gene sets off a chain of reactions in cotton plant embryos that lead to the formation of plastic granules in fibre (New Scientist, Vol 152, No 2057).

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