Sunday, March 8, 2009

Plastic producing plants

Plastic-Producing Plants: The cash crop of the future

November, 2000: Stanford, California

From water bottles to artificial heart valves, plastics are essential to our everyday lives. Plastics are synthetic resins made of large, organic polymers refined from valuable natural fossil fuels (oil, coal, petroleum, or natural gas). Normally, plastics take years to degrade and are a major component of landfill and waste areas. However, Dr. Chris Somerville, director of the Carnegie Institute of Washington’s Department of Plant Biology, and other institute scientists have discovered a method for engineering plants to make plastic that would biodegrade more easily–and not use up natural resources in the production process.

Recombinant bacteria and plasmid isolation. (From Stern, Introductory Plant Biology, 8th ed., © 2000, McGraw-Hill Companies.)

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