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Scientists Genetic Modification Enhances Trees To Yield Sustainable Wood

In a recent study published in the journal Science, scientists genetic modification enhances trees to yield sustainable wood after researchers from Ohio State University made a fascinating discovery. They found that trees in today's environment have grown approximately 30 percent larger due to increased levels of carbon dioxide.

Landon Morton
Jul 16, 20233671 Shares99214 Views
In a recent study published in the journal Science, scientists genetic modification enhances trees to yield sustainable woodafter researchers from Ohio State University made a fascinating discovery. They found that trees in today's environment have grown approximately 30 percent larger due to increased levels of carbon dioxide. However, despite this advantageous growth, the efficiency and productivity of wood fiber production have not kept pace with the rising demand for renewable tissue, paper, packaging, textiles, and other fiber-based products.
To address this challenge, scientist Daniel Sulis and his colleagues have turned to the revolutionary CRISPR editing technique. Their aim is to engineer trees with modified lignin, a compound that needs to be cleaved and dissolved to facilitate fiber production. By making lignin more suitable for fiber processing, the team hopes to enhance the efficiency of fiber production and meet the growing demands of various industries.
The implications of this research are significant as it offers a potential solution to improve the fiber production process and increase the availability of renewable materials. By harnessing the power of CRISPR editing, scientists are paving the way for innovative advancements in the field of wood fiber production, which could have far-reaching implications for sustainable industries worldwide.
“The ability to isolate fibers from wood is largely determined by the content and composition of lignin, a biopolymer recalcitrant to chemical and enzymatic degradation. More than five decades of research have extensively investigated the individual components of lignin biosynthesis,” said a press releaseon the new development.
However, these efforts have predominantly focused on the modification of single genes or gene families. Here, Daniel Sulis and colleagues show that strategic multiplex CRISPR editing of monolignol biosynthesis genes improves wood properties beyond what can be achieved by editing single genes or gene families. The authors used their approach to generate modified wood composition in a species of poplar tree, where CRISPR editing increased the wood carbohydrate-to-lignin ratio up to 228 percent that of wild type, which sets the stage for more efficient fiber pulping.- A statement from the press release on the development
A forest with several trees as the sunlight shines through
A forest with several trees as the sunlight shines through

Making Paper Production Less Polluting

Paper manufacturing could also be less harmful to the environment if trees were genetically modified to produce less lignin.
“The edited wood alleviates a major fiber-production bottleneck, and could bring unprecedented operational efficiencies, bioeconomic opportunities, and environmental benefits,” said the study’s authors in their paper.
Scientists have been conducting gene experiments on trees for quite some time. One notable instance occurred in April 2022 covered the work of researchers were covered at Living Carbon who engaged in DNA manipulation of trees. Their objective was to create a novel tree variant capable of significantly enhancing the capture of atmospheric carbon and retaining it for an extended duration.
During that period, Yumin Tao, the Vice President of Biotechnology at Living Carbon, spearheaded a team that successfully incorporated genes from pumpkins and green algae into trees. This ingenious addition greatly enhanced the process of photosynthesis, resulting in a remarkable increase in the amount of carbon that these modified trees could store in their tissues.
Moreover, scientists have accomplished another remarkable feat in the realm of tree manipulation by creating lab-grown wood. A group of researchers from MIT devised a technique to engineer timber in the laboratory, effectively providing an alternative to products that drive deforestation. This breakthrough method enables the production of timber in any desired shape and size without the need to fell a single tree.
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