Mutant Worms Spin Coloured Silk

Japanese scientists say they have genetically engineered silkworms to produce a specific colour. The author of the study, Takashi Sakudoh of the University of Tokyo, says understanding the pigment transport system of silkworms could pave the way for genetic manipulation of the colour and pigment content of silk. In nature, silkworm cocoon colours vary from white, yellow, straw, salmon, pink and green. The colours in the silk are from natural pigments absorbed when the silkworms eat mulberry leaves. The scientists have found that mutated insects produced a non-functional form of the carotenoid-binding protein, known to aid pigment uptake

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