Scientists are working on a plan to “grow” wood in a laboratory without sunlight or soil.
Ashley Beckwith, lead author of the study, said she hopes lab-grown wood could one day supplement traditional forestry methods.
Her team is growing the wood by using a 3D-printed gel to mould plant cells into the desired shape.
The technology could be used to create wooden parts or planks to be used in a piece of furniture.
She said the world was facing an “ever increasing demand for plant-based products, whether that be food, materials for infrastructure, consumer goods and even crops needed for bio-energy fuels, and we’re working with a finite area of farmable land.”
Beckwith, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the team started by growing small structures using a zinnia plant – a member of the daisy family – as a model species to “prove out the concept.” They hope to eventually increase the sizes of the structures produced.