Researchers Produce Hybrid Fiber by Inserting Gene Into Cotton Plant

From Times staff and wire reports

A fiber that is wrinkle-free and as warm as wool may be grown by inserting a polyester-like gene into the cotton plant, researchers at the biotech company Agracetus reported in the Nov. 15 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers inserted into the cotton plant a bacterial gene that makes a polyester-like substance and caused the plant to grow a fiber with the texture of cotton and the warmth of a winter-weight fabric.

"This proves the concept that we'll be able to come up with new and novel fibers for the textile industry" by genetically engineering the cotton plant, said biochemist Maliyakal E. John of Agracetus. Other genes, he said, could be used to make the cotton resistant to wrinkles and shrinkage.

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