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News

Bayer develops new cotton varieties

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 27 October, 2005  (New Product)
Fashion jeans, designer shirts or stylish underwear: people like to feel soft, cool cotton against their skin. However, artificial fibers are increasingly taking over from the natural product. In the latest edition of research, the Bayer scientific magazine, Bayer CropScience biotechnologists report how they want to further improve the quality of cotton fibers and at the same time increase the yield of the plants.
Fashion jeans, designer shirts or stylish underwear: people like to feel soft, cool cotton against their skin. However, artificial fibers are increasingly taking over from the natural product. In the latest edition of research, the Bayer scientific magazine, Bayer CropScience biotechnologists report how they want to further improve the quality of cotton fibers and at the same time increase the yield of the plants.

The best cotton comes from sunny California and humid Egypt, and the cotton fibers from which the finest yarns and threads are produced are fine, tear-resistant and long. The trouble is that the high-quality fiber plants which grow in these countries produce only low yields. Farmers nearly everywhere in the world therefore prefer more robust varieties, even though they produce significantly shorter and weaker fibers.

Bayer CropScience cotton researchers have now discovered the mechanism whereby cotton hairs can grow longer: internal pressure builds up inside the plantsí hair cells, which initially measure only a few millimeters, and this literally pumps up the cells, stretching them within the space of only three weeks to up to five centimeters in length.

Armed with this knowledge and genetic engineering expertise, the scientists have succeeded in breeding a perfect cotton variety with much longer and therefore higher quality cotton fibers. The new plants are now to be tested in field trials in the United States.

This is the first, crucial step towards achieving a deeper understanding of fiber growth and improving the quality of cotton. There is still enormous potential for further developments in the future: the scientists dream of a fiber which will finally allow the permanent-press shirt to become a reality.
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