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Grow Wood Without Trees

Can "natural" substances and fibers be artificially created in the lab? An MIT team has proposed a way to grow certain plant tissues in the lab - like just wood without the whole tree.


(Zinnia-based material grows in a tree-shaped bioprinted structure)

The researchers, in Luis Fernando Velásquez-García’s group at the Micro­systems Technology Laboratories, grew wood-like plant tissue indoors, without soil or sunlight. They started with a zinnia, extracting live cells from its leaves and culturing them in a liquid growth medium so they would metabolize and proliferate.

Next, they transferred the cells into a gel and “tuned” them, explains Velásquez-García: “Plant cells are similar to stem cells in the sense that they can become anything if they are induced to.” ...The gel itself acted as a scaffold to encourage the cells to grow in a particular shape...

“If you want a table, then you should just grow a table.”

Very soon now we're going to need what science fiction writers Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth created for us - a new term! Yes, we'll need to distinguish tree-grown wood as they do in their 1952 novel Gravy Planet:

The room wasn't big, it wasn't small: say ten by twelve. But it was cool, well-lighted and most imposingly furnished. The air recirculators were cleverly hidden behind animated friezes; the carpeting was thick and soft; and every piece of furniture was constructed from top to bottom of authentic, expertized, genuine tree-grown wood.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/19/2021)

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Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Pyrus, An Alternative Wood Made From Kombucha
Science fiction has just the word you'll need for that real wood from trees you've been using. Until now.

Grow Wood Without Trees
Pretty soon, you'll start seeing this term on very expensive items.

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'The light that is thus trapped can be released by making a small spark near the glass.' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.

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'... lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

 

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