Researchers engineer genes of plants to grow raw materials for green plastic
Eco Factor: Eco-friendly plastic made from renewable sources.
Till date most plastic that we use in our day-to-day lives either comes from petroleum or coal. Recent advancements in technology have enabled manufacturers to come up with greener alternatives in the form of bioplastics that are made from polyester derived from corn, starch or sugar cane byproducts. Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Dow AgroSciences have now come up with a new technology that can help produce green plastic without tapping into the food supply.
The research team has engineered a relative of cabbage to grow the raw materials for producing eco-friendly plastic. The biologists wanted to make plants that can produce high levels of omega-7 fatty acids that can be used to make compounds needed in plastic production. The team experimented with genes from plants that are known to produce these acids in their seeds. After experimenting with a variety of plants including milkweed and cat’s claw vine, the researchers had to engineer an entirely new metabolic pathway creating artificial enzymes to create seeds with high level of omega-7 fatty acids.
These genetically modified seeds can be used as a renewable source of chemicals that can then be used to make greener plastics.