02-09: Scientists Develop Method to Grow Wood in a Lab
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02-09: Scientists Develop Method to Grow Wood in a Lab

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American scientists say they have developed a way to grow wood material in a laboratory. The method could create different wood products indoors in a single process, greatly cutting the cost of production and reducing damage to the world's forests.
美国科学家表示,他们已经开发出一种在实验室中种植木材的方法。该方法可以在一个过程中在室内创建不同的木材产品,从而大大降低了生产成本并减少了对世界森林的破坏。
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated a proof of concept by growing wood-like structures from cells taken from the leaves of a flowering plant.
麻省理工学院(MIT)的研究人员通过从开花植物的叶子中提取的细胞生长出木质结构来证明了这一概念。
The results were recently reported in a study appearing in the Journal of Cleaner Production. The lead researcher on the project was Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, a scientist in MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories.
该结果最近在《清洁生产杂志》上的一项研究中报告。该项目的首席研究员是麻省理工学院微系统技术实验室的科学家路易斯·费尔南多·韦拉克斯奎·加西亚。
He told MIT News the process is still in early development. But if it can be perfected, it could simplify and speed up the production of wood products. "The way we get these materials hasn't changed in centuries and is very inefficient," Velásquez-García said.
他告诉《麻省理工新闻》,该过程仍在早期开发中。但是,如果可以完善它,则可以简化并加快木制品的生产。 Velásquez-García说:“我们获得这些材料的方式已经好几个世纪了,并且效率很低。”
For example, the current process for making a wooden table can take many years. First, a tree has to grow. Then, it must be cut down, transported, processed, etc. Velásquez-García says lab-grown wood could combine all those steps into one. "If you want a table, then you should just grow a table," he said.
例如,当前的木桌制作过程可能需要很多年。首先,必须生长一棵树。然后,必须对其进行砍伐,运输,加工等。Velásquez-García说,实验室种植的木材可以将所有这些步骤组合为一个步骤。他说:“如果你想要一张桌子,那你应该只增加一张桌子。”
The process is similar in some ways to lab produced meat, which is grown from live animal cells. But in the wood experiment, the MIT team collected live cells from the leaves of a zinnia plant.
该过程在某些方面类似于实验室生产的肉,这些肉是由活的动物细胞生长而成的。但是在木材实验中,麻省理工学院的研究小组从百日草的叶子中收集了活细胞。
The plant cells were then cultured and kept in an environment designed to activate and support growth. "Plant cells are similar to stem cells in the sense that they can become anything if they are induced to," Velásquez-García said.
然后将植物细胞培养并保存在旨在激活和支持生长的环境中。 Velásquez-García说:“植物细胞与干细胞在某种意义上类似,只要它们被诱导就可以变成任何东西。”
The experiment was carried out indoors, without soil or sunlight. During the process, the researchers used a mixture of two plant hormones that helped the cells grow a thick, strong wood-like structure. With further development, the researchers say they could use the same process to grow wood in specific shapes, such as a table or chair.
实验在室内进行,没有土壤或阳光。在此过程中,研究人员使用了两种植物激素的混合物,帮助细胞生长出浓密,坚固的木质结构。研究人员说,随着进一步的发展,他们可以使用相同的过程来种植特定形状的木材,例如桌子或椅子。
Ashley Beckwith is a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at MIT who led the research. She told MIT News she got the idea for the project while spending time on a farm. She said she wondered whether some of the inefficiencies present in agriculture could be improved through laboratory methods.
Ashley Beckwith是麻省理工学院机械工程专业的博士生,他领导了这项研究。她告诉麻省理工学院新闻学院,她在花时间在农场上时就想到了这个项目。她说,她想知道是否可以通过实验室方法来改善农业中存在的一些低效率现象。
"I wanted to find a more efficient way to use land and resources so that we could let more arable areas remain wild," Beckwith said. She says the experiment demonstrated that growing plant tissue in a lab could also have a big effect in agriculture.
贝克维斯说:“我想找到一种更有效的土地和资源利用方式,以便让更多的耕地保持荒野。”她说,实验表明,在实验室中种植植物组织也可能对农业产生重大影响。
Like with wood production, the process could reduce the time and effort related to traditional agriculture methods. It could also remove difficulties linked to weather and seasonality in farming, Beckwith said.
与木材生产一样,该过程可以减少与传统农业方法相关的时间和精力。 Beckwith说,这也可能消除与天气和农业季节性相关的困难。
Such a lab-based farming method "promises to improve yields while reducing plant waste and competition for arable land," the research study states.
研究指出,这种基于实验室的耕作方法“有望提高产量,同时减少植物废料和争夺耕地”。
David Stern is a plant biologist and president of the Boyce Thompson Institute. He was not involved in the study. He told MIT News one big question is whether the technology can be effectively scaled and remain economically competitive.
戴维·斯特恩(David Stern)是植物生物学家兼博伊斯·汤普森研究所(Boyce Thompson Institute)的总裁。他没有参与这项研究。他告诉《麻省理工新闻》,一个大问题是该技术是否可以有效扩展和保持经济竞争力。
Stern added that scaling up the method would require major financial and intellectual investments. And he said new issues would arise when bringing parts of forestry and agriculture into the lab. "Agriculture uses the sun's energy through photosynthesis, and...natural rainfall. It does not require buildings, heat, or artificial light," Stern said.
斯特恩补充说,扩大该方法将需要大量的财务和智力投资。他说,将部分林业和农业引入实验室时,将会出现新的问题。斯特恩说:“农业通过光合作用和自然降雨来利用太阳的能量。它不需要建筑物,热量或人造光。”
Velásquez-García said his team will be working to improve the method, especially to learn how to better control the final materials that are produced. And, the researchers also want to carry out new experiments to see whether the same results can be reached with other kinds of plants.
Velásquez-García说,他的团队将致力于改进该方法,特别是学习如何更好地控制所生产的最终材料。而且,研究人员还希望进行新的实验,看看是否可以用其他种类的植物达到相同的结果。
I'm Bryan Lynn.
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Words in This Story
concept – n. an idea of what something is or how it works
inefficient – adj. not capable of producing the desired results without wasting time and energy
culture – v. the beliefs, customs, arts of a particular group of people
induce – v. to cause something to happen next
hormone – n. a natural substance that is produced in the human body and determines how the body grows and develops
arable – adj. suitable for farming
yield – v. to produce something, such as crops
scale – v. a range of levels from low to high
photosynthesis – n. the plant process of deriving nutrients from the sun
artificial – adj. not real, not alive

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