Scientists have used genetic engineering to produce leather that is animal- and plastic-free, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications says in its weekly bulletin.

Citing a paper published this month in Nature Biotechnology, ISAAA adds, “This sustainable leather also has self-dyeing properties.”

ISAAA says bacterial cellulose “is a promising alternative to leather due to its biodegradability, material properties and low infrastructure needs” but, to be sustainable, safer alternatives than chemical dyes are needed.

“To help with this problem, researchers from Imperial College London used genetic engineering to produce a bacterial strain of Komagataeibacter rhaeticus that grows self-pigmenting bacterial cellulose.

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"This new type of leather was successfully used to make shoe and wallet prototypes. Their research highlights that the combination of genetic engineering and techniques of textile biofabrication may produce a new type of textile.”

ISAAA’s Biotech Updates also teases about biotech promises at these links: GM Bacteria to Fight Ocean Pollution by Breaking Down Plastics in Saltwater; Bioengeered Bacteria Produces Renewable Fuel to Rival Rocket Fuel and Bioengineered Bacteria to Produce Electricity from Wastewater.

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