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Cotton that resists fires has been discovered

Epochal result by a group of American researchers coordinated by the Department of Agriculture

A fireproof cotton variety has been obtained, which resists fire and causes its self-extinguishing: the diffusion of this variant in global cotton cultivation could significantly reduce the costs and environmental impact of production of fabrics, as it would eliminate the need to use chemical compounds that reduce flammability for consumer safety. The result was obtained by a group of researchers led by the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS), who published their study in the journal Plos One. Cotton plant selection usually focuses on fiber quality and improved yield – it is characteristics such as color and strength that determine whether a given batch of cotton will be destined for rags and washcloths or high quality sheets and luxury fabrics: these are all factors that also determine their economic value.

The researchers led by Gregory Thyssen instead focused on new varieties that had greater resistance to fire: the authors of the study reviewed 257 different variants, finally identifying four of them that got the desired characteristics. The new fibers were used to produce fabrics to be tested: all four caused the flame to go out autonomously, unlike classic cotton which was completely consumed by the fire.

The authors of the study then sequenced the entire DNA of the identified varieties: in this way, they found the candidate genes responsible for the ability to resist fire, thus paving the way for the possibility of introducing this trait into currently cultivated plants.

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EFA News - European Food Agency