GMO Trees to Simplify Paper Production

Alessia Andreotti
April 24th 2014

Researchers - at University of British Columbia, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University - have genetically engineered trees that will be easier to break down to produce paper and biofuel.
A project that could reduce the use of chemicals and energy and create fewer environmental pollutants in tree-processing.

The study reports the successful engineering of poplar trees to produce lignin, a polymer found in wood, that degrades more easily. Lignin provides strength to wood but also impedes efficient degradation. Currently the lignin must be removed, a process that requires significant chemicals and energy and causes undesirable waste. Scientists identified an enzyme in other plants that contain more digestible lignin monomers, then expressed it in poplar. The resulting trees showed no difference in growth and strength, but their lignin showed improved digestibility.

“We’re designing trees to be processed with less energy and fewer chemicals, and ultimately recovering more wood carbohydrate than is currently possible”, explains Shawn Mansfield, professor of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia.

Assuming it will take some time for handwriting to die, in the near future we could write on GMO paper.

Read more on: UBC News

Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!


Comments are members only. Login to your account and join the technology debate.

Not a member? Join us

Should men be able to give birth to children?

Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

Join us!
Already a member? Login.