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Creating a cotton trichome cell line to grow cotton fibers without relying on the cotton plant

Raised of $2,200 Goal
Funded on 6/23/22
Successfully Funded
  • $2,200
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 6/23/22

About This Project

Growing cotton fibers through cellular agriculture would consume a negligible amount of water, not require pesticides at all, and grow 10 times faster, compared to traditional agriculture methods.

Although cotton ovules are cultured commonly, their production still depends on the plant as a source. Hence, the first goal for this research project is to develop a cotton fiber cell line, in order to grow cotton completely independently from a cotton plant.

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What is the context of this research?

Researchers have been using cotton ovule culture only as a method to study genetic mechanisms of the cotton plant since before the year 2000, so the method to grow cotton fibers in-vitro is standardized. However, no literature has been found on culturing cotton epidermal cells in isolation from the cotton ovule.

A method for extracting trichomes from Nicotiana tabacum can be used for cotton trichomes. The ultimate goal is to create a cotton trichome cell line that can be reproduced in-vitro to grow cotton fibers without depending on the cotton plant as an initial source of cells (which is the current state of the art with cotton ovule culture).

What is the significance of this project?

Cotton is the most widespread profitable non-food crop in the world, currently accounting for 21% of total global fibre use for apparel and textiles. Annual production is estimated to be 27 million tonnes and worth around $41 billion dollars.

Unfortunately, it takes more than 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton t-shirt (7-29 thousand liters per kg of crop). Further, 4% of pesticides and 10% of insecticides worldwide are used in cotton-growing.

According to studies done by *Galy Co, growing cotton fibers in-vitro consumes 80% less water since fibers don't need irrigation in-vitro. Additionally, this cotton wouldn't need any pesticides or insecticides since it's already grown in lab sterile conditions.

*the Cell Cotton project uses a different method

What are the goals of the project?

Since cotton ovule culture has already been proved successful, the first goal for this research project is to develop a cotton epidermal cell line that can develop into cotton trichomes of at least 25 mm in length, in isolation from the ovule.

Having achieved fibers that are at least 25 mm long, the process will be passed into a bioreactor in order to speed up the growth time (normally 15 days) .

Additionally, the Cell Cotton project aims to increase the general public's interest in this biotechnology by adding novel properties to cotton. In this sense, the last project milestone is to add the 6CF-Glc fluorescent complex to the growth medium to make cotton fluorescence.


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First proof of concept: grow >25mm cotton fibers in a Petri dish and replicate results

Second proof of concept: grow >25mm cotton fibers in a bioreactor and replicate results

Third proof of concept: grow >25mm cotton fibers in a bioreactor using fluorescent proteins

Research personnel time: for people who guide me at the lab (hired for 10 hours throughout the whole project, at strategic points in the project)

I already considered the transaction fee that experiment charges as well as shipping costs.

Endorsed by

Sofia is passionate about tackling difficult questions in the synthetic biology space. The Cell Cotton Project is a recent manifestation of that determination, and supports both the growing industry of alternative material sources and up-and-coming students who want to make the world a better place.

Project Timeline

The director of the biotechnology department at Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Toluca will open a space for me to start working at the lab ASAP.

While that happens, I'll be ordering materials and reagents. Each project milestone is estimated to take about 1 month to accomplish, which leads to a duration of 4 months for the whole project.

Apr 20, 2022

Project Launched

Jul 31, 2022

Grow cotton fiber from ovules

Aug 31, 2022

Isolate cotton ovule epidermal cells

Sep 30, 2022

Grow cotton epidermal cells into fiber, in isolation from the ovule

Oct 31, 2022

Publish full white paper with results

Meet the Team

Sofia Sanchez
Sofia Sanchez
Upcoming bioengineering student


Tecnológico de Monterrey
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Sofia Sanchez

Sofia is a curious and ambitious biotech developer in-the-making. On her mission is to bring innovative, impactful, and beautiful biotech products into the hands of consumers, she has led an international iGEM team, interned at Grow Your Own Cloud (DNA data storage startup), and worked on over 4 biotech research projects throughout high school, alongside different researchers including research groups at Tecnológico de Monterrey. She is currently part of The Knowledge Society and BioDojo, both global communities for young people using science and technology to make a positive impact in the world.

Lab Notes

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Project Backers

  • 12Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $2,200Total Donations
  • $183.33Average Donation
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