Australian researchers are closer to turning plants into bio-factories capable of producing oils to replace petrochemicals such as fatty acids, reported United Press International (UPI). Scientists working within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national government body for scientific research, reported a major step forward by accumulating 30% of an unusual fatty acid, or UFA, in their model plant, Arabidopsis.
According to reports, UFAs are generally sourced from petrochemicals to produce plastics, paints and cosmetics. Researchers are now focused on developing technologies for making a range of UFAs in oilseeds.
Using crops as bio-factories reportedly has advantages beyond the replacement of shrinking petrochemical resources. Global challenges such as population growth, climate change and the switch from nonrenewable resources are opening up many more opportunities for bio-based products.
According to the report by UPI, Allan Green, who is leading the research, said the production of bio-factory plants could not only meet raw material demands, but also will provide farmers with new, high-value crops bred to suit their growing conditions. The technology, he added in the report, is low greenhouse gas-generating, sustainable and can reinvigorate agribusiness.