Mother Nature's antibacterial dyes: Bright colors and a knockout punch for germs

June 2, 2008

A strain of marine bacteria produces large amounts of bright red pigments that can be used as a natural dye for wool, nylon, silk and other fabrics, scientists in California are reporting. The dyes from Mother Nature’s palate also have an anti-bacterial effect that could discourage harmful bacteria from growing on socks, undergarments, and other clothing, they report in a study scheduled for the June 6 issue of ACS’ Biotechnology Progress.

In the new research, graduate student Farzaneh Alihosseini, her adviser Gang Sun and colleagues point out that conventional dyes and pigments used in clothing have several drawbacks. Many are made from non-renewable resources such as petroleum, and are potentially harmful to the environment and human health. In addition, concerns exist about the potential toxicity of existing antibacterial-fabric coatings.

The researchers found that a certain strain of bacteria isolated from marine sediments produces large quantities of bright red pigments called prodiginines that can be used to dye clothing. In laboratory tests, the pigments worked on wool, silk, nylon, and acrylic fabrics as efficiently and effectively as some conventional dyes.

The pigments showed strong antibacterial activity against harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, when applied to most of the fabrics tested.


Source: ACS

Explore further: Super sunscreen from fjord bacteria

Related Stories

Advance offers revolution in food safety testing

September 25, 2008

Microbiologists at Oregon State University have developed a new technology to detect illness-causing bacteria – an advance that could revolutionize the food industry, improving the actual protection to consumers while avoiding ...

Bladderwrack: Tougher than suspected

October 31, 2014

The bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus is actually one of the most important species of brown algae along the North Atlantic coasts. But for years their populations in the Baltic Sea were declining. Looking for the reasons, biologists ...

Resisting Radiation

March 30, 2006

In Star Wars and Star Trek movies, people travel between planets and galaxies with ease. But our future in space is far from assured. Issues of hyperdrive and wormholes aside, it doesn't seem possible that the human body ...

Virus killer gets supercharged

January 12, 2011

A simple technique to make a common virus-killing material significantly more effective is a breakthrough from the Rice University labs of Andrew Barron and Qilin Li.

Impregnating plastics with carbon dioxide

January 3, 2011

Everyone has heard that carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming. But the gas also has some positive characteristics. Researchers are now impregnating plastics with compressed CO2 in a process that could lead to new ...

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.