Microbial colorants: The future of natural colorants – Vaishali M. Kulkarni, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
Colors play a vital role for humans by helping us define and choose products depending upon its appearance. Until 19th century all colors came from natural sources; however in the last 150 years synthetic colors have completely eliminated the use of natural colors owing to their low cost.
The prolonged use of these synthetic/chemical colors (derived from petroleum) has led to many ecological and economical challenges. Today almost 15-20% of freshwater pollution is caused by textile dyeing and treatment. Moreover the hazardous waste generated during synthesis, along with the concerns related to human safety and environment has thus fostered fresh enthusiasm in search for alternatives, which are not only derived from renewable sources but are also environmentally benign.
Microbes provide this inexhaustible feedstock, as they represent one of the cheapest, most abundant & unexplored biological feedstock available in large quantities. Microbes which are present in many different colors can be exploited to extract colors. These natural colors can find applications in food, feed, pharmaceuticals, textiles and cosmetics. The present endeavour therefore explores microbes as an inexhaustible source which can be used for extracting different natural colors, thereby giving an opportunity to color the whole world in a completely new different way.
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