"Naturally" Coloured Silk. Sort Of.


Not that we are particularly enamored with genetic engineering, but this was an interesting story that crossed our screen the other week. Looks like scientists in Japan are busily at work genetically modifying the pigment transport system of silkworms. In wild the wriggly guys can produce colours as varied as yellow, straw. salmon, pink through to green from their diet of mulberry leaves. It is silkworms with a mutated Y gene that produce the whitest silk. Engineering worms with pristine Y genes, and then crossbreeding them makes the yellowy colour more vivid. Now the boffins are working on controlling their flock (what do you call a herd of silkworms?) to yield a flesh and a red coloured silk. The only green (er, ... better make that eco) aspect of this is that the pigment of silk can be managed at the production stage and may negate the copious pollution and waste that normally results from traditional textile dyeing. NB: Colour grown cotton has been around for decades, but this was achieved through long years of crossbreeding. Via ::Physorg.

See also Q&A; Is Silk Green?

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