The root of all good: What is aeroponics?

Published: 21-Jul-2022

Clariant Active Ingredients' Julie Droux discusses a sustainable method of obtaining rare components from plant roots

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Roots are exposed to harsh environments in the soil and offer specific defence molecules with properties of interest to the cosmetics industry. But to access roots can risk damaging the plant.

Here, Julie Droux, Senior Marketing Specialist, Clariant Active Ingredients discusses aeroponics: a method of obtaining valuable components from plant roots without impacting the plant itself.

The root of all good: What is aeroponics?

Roots are exposed to harsh environments and aggressors in the soil. To protect themselves, they produce specific defence molecules called secondary metabolites. These molecules can have beneficial properties for the skin and therefore add value to cosmetic products. But roots are the hardest part of a plant to reach. To access them, it is usually necessary to uproot the plant, causing irreversible damage.

Aeroponic culture systems consist of growing plants in greenhouses without the use of soil. In this process, the roots are directly accessible, and in contact with the outside controlled environment.

This innovative technology inspired the development of the patented PAT Plant Milking technology (owned by Plant Advanced Technologies). Here, nutritive solutions are sprayed directly onto roots, and their specific composition not only helps roots to grow faster than in a natural setting, but it also stimulates them to produce molecules of interest in a higher amount. This makes it possible to discover rare components which would usually only be available in small quantities.

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