Investigating the potential of novel non-woven fabrics for efficient pollination control in plant breeding

John Clifton-Brown, Hannah Senior, Sarah Purdy, Richard Horsnell, Bernd Lankamp, Ann-Katrin Müennekhoff, Daljit Virk, Estelle Guillemois, Vera Chetty, Alan Cookson, Sarah Girdwood, Gabi Clifton-Brown, Mei Lie MC Tan, Danny Awty-Carroll, Alison Bentley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)
209 Downloads (Pure)


Plant breeding is achieved through the controlled self- or cross-pollination of individuals and typically involves isolation of floral parts from selected parental plants. Paper, cellulose or synthetic materials are used to avoid self pollination or cross contamination. Low seed set limits the rate of breeding progress and increases costs. We hypothesized that a novel ‘nonwoven’ fabric optimal for both pollination and seed set in multiple plant species could be developed. After determining the baseline pollen characteristics and usage requirements we established iterative three phase development and biological testing. This determined (1) that white fabric gave superior seed return and informed the (2) development of three non-woven materials using different fibre and layering techniques. We tested their performance in selfing and hybridisation experiments recording differences in performance by material type within species. Finally we (3) developed further advanced fabrics with increased air permeability and tested biological performance. An interaction between material type and species was observed and environmental decoupling investigated, showing that the non-woven fabrics had superior water vapour transmission and temperature regulation compared to controls. Overall, non-woven fabrics outperformed existing materials for both pollination and seed set and we found that different materials can optimize species-specific, rather than species-generic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0204728
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2018


  • Arabidopsis/genetics
  • Beta vulgaris/genetics
  • Plant Breeding/methods
  • Pollination
  • Textiles
  • Triticum/genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating the potential of novel non-woven fabrics for efficient pollination control in plant breeding'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this