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The first genetically cloned animal was Dolly the sheep. As I understand it, this was possible because all that was needed was an embryo containing the cloned genetic material and a womb for that embryo to grow in. Would the same process also work to clone a plant?

I assume that the problem with embryonic cloning techniques and plants stems (forgive the pun) from the need to implant it into a host seed without destroying its ability to germinate. I haven't found a reference that claims this has been attempted... If anyone knows of a study related to this, I would love to read it.

Given my assumption I tried to imagine another way to achieve this goal which lead me here, to pose my question to the brilliant minds of this community:

Is it possible to implant a cloned plant embryo into a synthetic 3d printed seed that would germinate with existing technology.

I know we have successfully 3D printed living tissue using state of the are equipment like the 3d Bioplotter. If you guys don't think it is currently possible then what technological advances would need to be made to achieve this goal.

Note: The answer to my question is relevant to a number of possible applications. A hypothetical "Seed Printer" could be used in a future manned mission to Mars. Due to the logistics of shipping supplies to mars, it could be more practical (cost effective) to ship the raw material needed for printing seeds than it would to send actual seeds.

Edit*: Thanks for the comments, I feel a little foolish for not knowing about artificial seed coats prior to posting this question. In light of new information, I would like to additionally ask:

What are the current limitations of creating artificial seed coats that could possibly be enhanced with the application of 3d printing technology.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! As long as you have a cloned plant embryo, an artificial seed coat would certainly work (this is quite common, but not in 3D printing). Yet, the question is very likely to get opinion-based answers. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 21 '17 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you! The hardest part of learning about a new subject is knowing what to research. I had seen the phrase "Artificial Seed Coat" but it was never used in a context that indicated that it was exactly what I was looking for. $\endgroup$ – Kenneth Moore Apr 21 '17 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ Hint: look for plant tissue culture and you'll most likely get what you want ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 21 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ Also note that the chances of all the raw materials, plus power supply and assorted hardware for the printer being easier to carry than <1g seeds seem very low. $\endgroup$ – terdon Apr 21 '17 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ You make an excellent point! I am more concerned with the effects of ionizing radiation on the seeds and the weight of the technology and materials needed to properly protect them during shipment. You may be right however and it would be more feasible simply to ship the seeds. $\endgroup$ – Kenneth Moore Apr 21 '17 at 15:00

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