Wrinkle-free cotton shirts a dream becoming a reality for CSIRO researchers

Not having to iron a cotton shirt and fighting all the creases after being washed or worn could become a reality with a team of CSIRO scientists embarking on a new project developing the next generation of cotton.

The CSIRO research team is aiming to grow a plant with the characteristics of synthetics, providing a stretchy, non-creasing and waterproof fibre, which also retains its natural feel.

CSIRO senior research scientist Colleen MacMillan said the team was looking into the structure of cotton cell walls, and putting molecules into the cell walls, giving the plant new properties.

“We use special molecular tools called synthetic biology tools that are inspired by nature and exist in nature to produce the next generation of cotton,” Dr MacMillan said.

She said the idea was to have a plant, which could produce new natural fibres that had some of the properties of synthetics.

But rather than using chemicals to produce synthetic fibres that are from non-renewable sources and break down into microplastics polluting the ocean, the research team was using the cotton plant to produce the natural fibres in a renewable way, which then could break down in the environment.

“It’s a brand new natural fibre that we hope will be good for the planet,” she said.

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