New Technique Helps Silk Worms Produce Colorful Silk

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Silk has always been related to something premium, a royal piece of fabric which is produced naturally from various insects has won many hearts by their soft to touch property. After the Industrial Revolution, the cotton industry may have taken center stage due to its low cost, but silk still remains as one of the rich fabrics especially in the country of China and India.

Silk has a variety of uses in many fields which includes fabrics, medical equipment like for example non-absorbable surgery sutures, casing of bicycle tires etc. Silk is also used in making holograms due to its refractive nature, creating capsules etc.

In the case of fabrics, silk sarees produced in India are famous globally. Silk also keeps the body warm and hence is also useful in making skiing garments. Silk is also used in producing velvet, one of the softest materials.

As the rise of other fabrics like nylon have reduced the prevalence of silk, there is a growing need to revolutionize the way silk is produced. For some 5,000 years, cultivated silk­worms have been spinning luxurious white silk fibers destined for use in the finest clothing. As the main source of silk has always been white in color, the dyeing and coloring of the silk causes a lot of harm to the environment.

Dyeing textile fabrics is one of today’s most polluting industries.

Dyeing textile fabrics is one of today’s most polluting industries. The process requires huge quantities of water for bleaching, washing and rinsing, and results in a stream of harmful waste-water that needs to be treated before release into the environment.

Indian Researchers have discovered a unique method which enables silkworms to produce colorful silk without affecting the worms’ growth. Researchers Anuya Nisal, Kanika Trivedy and colleagues from the CSIR- Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in West Bengal, India have discovered a “greener” dyeing method to producing colorful silk: by feeding dyed mulberry leaves to Bombyx mori silkworm larvae so they spin colored — rather than white – cocoons.

Indian Researchers have discovered a unique method which enables silkworms to produce colorful silk.

Of the seven azo dyes they tested, three were incorporated into the caterpillars’ silk, and none seemed to affect the worms’ growth. The scientists noticed that certain dye traits, such as the ability to dissolve in water, affected how well the dye worked.

This is quite exciting news for the silk lovers. If successful, this rare fabric can gain back its charm which it used to have in its heydays.

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