Quirks & Quarks

GMO Poplar Tree Helps The Environment

Genetically modified trees may help produce more efficient biofuels....

Genetically modified trees may help produce more efficient biofuels.

Genetically engineered poplar trees will be more environmentally friendly when they are used to produce paper and biofuels.  At present, a polymer found in wood, known as lignin - which gives trees their strength - has to be removed in both of those processes. The breakdown and removal of lignin requires the use of many caustic chemicals and high amounts of energy. But Dr. Shawn Mansfield, a Professor of Wood Science from The University of British Columbia, has solved the lignin problem by genetically re-designing the polar. A chemical bond associated with lignin from another plant,which does break down, was introduced into the lignin of the poplar trees. The result is a poplar tree that is just as strong, easier for industry to work with and better for the environment.

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