Cotton is the leading fiber source in the textile industry and one of the world’s most important crops. Despite its economic interest, cotton culture exerts an enormous pressure on natural resources (land and water) and has a negative impact on the environment (abuse of pesticides). Thus, alternative cotton growing methods are urged to be implemented. Recently, we have demonstrated that Gossypium hirsutum
(“Upland” cotton) can be grown in a greenhouse (controlled conditions) and hydroponically. Here we report on the elucidation of the structural changes of the Gossypium hirsutum
fibers during maturation grown [10, 14, 17, 20, 36 and 51 days post anthesis (dpa)] under a greenhouse and hydroponically, by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy with attenuated total reflectance (FT-IR ATR) and thermal gravimetric analysis/differential scanning calorimetry (TGA/DSC). The transition from primary to secondary cell wall growth occurs between 17 and 20 dpa—similarly to the soil-based cultures. However, this new cotton culture offers an advantageous pesticide and soil-free all year-round closed system with efficient water use yielding standardized mature fibers with improved properties (maturity, strength, length, whiteness).
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