Can a tree's genes be altered so that it grows at a faster rate?
#98253. Asked by Ikirak. (Aug 03 08 9:19 PM)
Yes, and here is a practical example.|
Wood harvested from genetically engineered trees might make paper and some fuels easier and less costly to produce.
A team of researchers has genetically engineered aspens to reduce their content of lignin, a tough polymer that glues together the cells in trees and that the papermaking process must chemically extract. What's more, the engineered trees actually grow faster and have a higher proportion of cellulose, the raw material for paper, than normal aspens do.
"The [engineered] plants were a good 25 to 30 percent taller." Chiang speculates that blocking the lignin gene changes other compounds that stimulate growth of the tree.
Cutting the lignin content of trees could also make it more practical to produce ethanol and other biofuels from wood, says Jeffries. Oil companies add ethanol, usually fermented from corn, to gasoline to help it burn cleanly.
(I suspect that this will be common practise in the worl od industry if it is not already).
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