Good Evening! I have a short post for you today: cool genetic engineering and a possible new trend in the fashion world. Scientists have found a way to make fluorescent silk. The new material is comparable to normal silk and designers have already used it to make their clothes. The picture below is a wedding dress made from this new silk.
To produce this silk, scientists inserted a fluorescent protein sequence into the silkworms’ DNA. The fluorescent protein gene, fibroin H chain, is injected into a silkworm egg right after it has been laid. This gene sequence incorporates itself into the developing silkworm’s DNA. The result is a transgenic silk worm. So far, the researchers have produced three different colors: red, green and orange.
Because the fluorescent protein sequence becomes integrated into the silkworms’ DNA, the silkworms’ offspring will also be able to produce fluorescent silk. So people can breed the transgenic silkworms and produce the fluorescent silk in large quantities. According to The Scientist, 20,000 genetically modified silkworms have already been raised and are hard at work making more silk.
1) Kate Yandell, “Genetically Modified Fashion: Scientists have engineered silkworms to produce fluorescent fabrics,” The Scientist
2) Iizuka, T. et al. “Colored Fluorescent Silk Made by Transgenic Silkworms,” Advanced Functional Materials, 2013
Coming Thursday: How molecules fluoresce!