The colors we use to dye our clothes are a burden to the environment. The researches in the BioColour - consortium have taken this challenge seriously and are searching for the solution from the world of amazingly versatile microbes – with some very encouraging results. As a part of the project, research scientist Satu Hilditch is exploring the genetic code in plants and mushrooms to find those snippets of DNA code that control the production of certain colors.
Our environment and fragile ecosystems suffer enormously from the chemical load produced by the over consumption and the modern way of life. One significant source of carbon emissions as well as chemicalisation is the textile industry which can be accountable for 20 % of the water pollution in the world. Although mankind has been using natural colors derived from plants, mushrooms and animals for thousands of years, 99 % of the pigments currently used to dye our clothes are fossil based synthetic dyes. One could cultivate plants to obtain pigments but replacing the synthetic dyes with only cultivated plant based dyes would simply not be sustainable since that would require too much agricultural land. The solution might be hiding on the Petri dish as synthetic biologists believe they could produce in the future any color with the help of microbes.