For any fans of flora out there, here are two more interesting (in my opinion) examples of how we have tried to harness the ingenuity of biological plant-life processes and apply it to improving personal care items like sunscreen and toothpaste.
IV. Anti-UV Lichens: After being sent to space and back, Cottin et al. (2012) discovered that some species of lichen can continue to grow normally, despite being bombarded by harmful solar UV rays for 18 months. The lichens’ ability to withstand the full power of the Sun has attracted interest cosmetic companies, with hopes of improving or manufacturing new ingredient for sunscreen.
Cottin et al. (2012) The PROCESS Experiment: An Astrochemistry Laboratory for Solid and Gaseous Organic Samples in Low-Earth Orbit. Astrobiology 12: 412 doi:10.1089/ast.2011.0773
V. Anti-bacterial Seaweed: Scientists have discovered that enzymes found in seaweed can help fight the plaque plague and tooth decay. The anti-bacterial properties of algal microbes were originally being explored for use in ship hull cleaning, but the same principles have now been extended to oral hygene. Might lead to some interesting toothpaste flavours…