Colors play an extraordinarily large role in our daily lives. We find them in the clothes we wear, in the cosmetics we use or in the food we eat - we take them for granted. Most of the dyes used are of synthetic origin, which are attractive for dyeing due to their color intensity and longevity, but are based on non-renewable petroleum materials, are predominantly toxic and require large quantities of other toxic substances for their production. A large proportion of synthetic dyes, which belong to the class of azo dyes, also exhibit a potentially carcinogenic effect.
Thus, both the production, the dyeing process and the use pose health risks to mankind. In addition, dyes and pigments are frequently released with industrial wastewater into the environment, where they remain due to their longevity, causing massive damage to nature and the ecosystem at hand. As a result of political bans and social rethinking, the demand for natural alternatives has been growing enormously in recent years.
MycoColors is targeting this problem by exploring the potential of fungal based dyes. Primary goals are the development of optimized growing conditions for color producing mycelium, a sustainable extraction of dyes and an innovative dyeing process to establish fungal dyes for the textile and fashion industry in the first place. Thereby fungi offer a lively, broad color spectrum, which ranges through all colors of the rainbow and is far from being exhausted as just 5% of fungi are known by now.
Yet, fungal mycelium is not used as color producers in the textile and fashion industry. We, MycoColors, aim to fulfill this challenge by providing a biodesign solution that can compete with synthetically colored products in terms of availability and scalability, while offering a non-toxic and natural alternative. Thus MycoColors is able to create a great positive impact and a natural revolution in those industries.
We share the same passion for fungi and the vast possibilities they offer for a more sustainable world. As a textile and fashion designer, Birke has previously researched ecological textile development, focusing her work around the question of living in symbiosis with our environment. Friederike already dedicated her research to fungi both at the molecular and genetic engineering level as well as regarding the applicability of fungi or fungi-based products as sustainable resources for biological transformations.
Our interdisciplinary thinking in the combination of biotech, design and nature is the innovative power of MycoColors.
We cherish those organisms and have a deep understanding of the place they are coming from - nature. First, we harvest fungi of interest from nature and try to cultivate them under laboratory conditions. We then optimize the mycelium growth regarding nutrient supply and cultivation conditions to mimic nature. To achieve industrially relevant dye yields, we perform bioreactor submerged cultivation with the selected fungus. Further we develop a sustainable dye extraction and an innovative dyeing process with our new fungal colorants.