Syn-Bio-Produced Indigo

Tinctorium Bio is producing a sustainable alternative to indigo dye using engineered E. coli. The bacteria produce indican, a precursor to indigo dyes, after which β-glucosidase is added to produce leucoindigo, the chemical actually used to dye cotton. The process avoids harmful chemicals used in traditional indigo production, such as the reducing agent sodium dithionite. Other companies, such as PILI and Colorifix, are also using biology to improve the dyeing process (e.g., creating bio-based dyes and pigment deposition techniques).