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Water-proof cotton may turn into reality

23
Aug '12
Having a cotton genome sequence may open up many possibilities for genetic engineering in cotton and one possible application would be developing waterproof cotton, said a top scientist at the Australian based - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

CSIRO is an Australian government research organisation and one of its divisions - Plant Industry works towards fostering a sustainable and profitable agricultural sector. CSIRO breeds highly adapted and successful cotton varieties and currently 100% of the cotton grown in Australia (over 700,000 hectares) has been developed by CSIRO.

Speaking exclusively to fibre2fashion, Dr Danny Llewellyn of CSIRO says, “We are certainly aiming for using genetic engineering for modifying fibre properties, but it is still early days.”

“We are currently working on studying the detailed composition of polysaccharide polymers that make up the cotton fibre (not just cellulose but many other polymers present in smaller amounts that may still impart important physical or chemical attributes to the fibre) and how they change.”

“A draft of the cotton genome was recently released and having this genome sequence will open up many new possibilities for genetic engineering in cotton and one possible application would be developing waterproof cotton. This new fibre compositional information combined with the genome sequences will help direct our activities towards what particular polysaccharides or functional groups on the polysaccharides that make the fibre could be manipulated using gene technology approaches.” 

“Having a cotton genome sequence will provide us with the information about what different cell wall genes and enzymes are present in cotton and which ones we might target to turn off or increase in expression to change the composition of the cotton fibre cell wall.  It is also possible to express novel biomolecules in the fibres that could impart unusual characteristics to the fibre such as waterproofing.”

“We are developing molecular tools that will allow us to express different genes at different times during the development of the fibre and these “promoters” will be used to drive particular genes for specific expression in fibres.”

“Gene technology provides a powerful tool for modifying plants, but it does take a long time for any products to reach the market so waterproof cotton is a possibility, but still a thing for the future”, he wound up by saying.

CSIRO uses conventional breeding and biotechnology to produce various cotton varieties that are amongst the best in the world, and these will provide a platform for the release of any novel products of biotechnology that it may develop around novel cotton fibres in the future.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India


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