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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Scientists Color Silk By Feeding Silkworms Fabric Dyes

Brown cows may not actually make chocolate milk, but pink silkworms do produce pink skeins of silk, a team of scientists has discovered. To see if they could produce pre-dyed silk—silk that comes colored, straight from the source—the team fed ordinary silkworms mulberry leaves that had been sprayed with fabric dyes. Out of seven tested dyes, only one worked, producing a thread that reminded me of pink-dyed hair.
And yes, the worms themselves take on some color before they weave their silk cocoons. Their colorful diets did not affect their growth, the team, which included engineers and biologists from the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in India, reports in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. (The researchers didn't look too deeply into how the dyes affected the silkworms' health. After all, silkworms die when people harvest their silk.)

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