November 25, 2022
Terminator plants: scientists have printed cells resistant to adverse conditions on a printer
For several decades there have been debates about the benefits and harms of GMO plants. Someone sees in them the salvation of mankind from hunger, and someone sees an unknown danger and threat to biodiversity. Scientists from the University of North Carolina went further: they did not just change the genetic composition of the finished cells, but printed plant cells on a bioprinter. The aim of the study was to understand how plant cells interact with each other and the environment, and to understand their functioning in order to further improve the quality of cultivated crops. Scientists have tried to answer several questions: Will the printed cells survive and how long will they live? How will they change and what properties will they acquire? To find out, they printed the cells of the roots of the Arabidopsis thaliana plant and soybeans. Printing on a bioprinter resembles printing on a 3D printer, but it uses several heads with different types of "ink", and the printing material is obtained from living cells. In addition, strict sterility of the environment is maintained with the help of an ultraviolet filter. As a result, the researchers printed several cells without a shell using nutrients, growth hormones and agarose, a seaweed–based substance that forms the cell framework and helps them maintain strength. Approximately 40% of the samples survived, which eventually formed small cell colonies - microcalls. They have proved resistant to climate change — heat, drought and too much water. Another unusual property of printed cells turned out to be that they can transform into different types of cells, like animal or human stem cells. Resistance to adverse conditions and variability are the most important factors of survival. Perhaps in a few years, artificially created plants grown from printed cells with specified properties will appear in the fields and gardens of American farmers. Do you think such research is a boon and will help humanity solve problems with hunger and overpopulation in the future, or are these dangerous experiments whose consequences are difficult to predict?