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Scientists have already figured out how to grow meat in a lab, nurturing animal cells to multiply into chicken cutlets and burger patties. Now, MIT researchers are hoping to do the same with wood, to quickly produce in a lab what would take decades to grow in nature.

From there, they could even coax wood tissue to grow into fully-formed shapes—like, say, a table—in order to mitigate the environmental harm of the logging and construction industries.

In a paper recently published the Journal of Cleaner Production, the researchers detail how they grew wood-like plant tissue from cells extracted from the leaves of a zinnia plant, without soil or sunlight.

The work is still in its very early stages, the researchers say, but by successfully growing those cells, they say they’ve provided a starting point to a new way of producing biomaterials. It’s a process that eventually could help accelerate our shift away from plastics and other materials that end up in landfill toward materials that can biodegrade.I look forward to a future where we’ll be able to make furniture without the need for deforestation!

Source: Fast Company