The biotechnology has made rapid developments in genetic engineering with a possibility of 'tailoring' organisms in order to optimize production of established or novel metabolites of commercial importance and of transferring genetic material (genes) from one organism to another. It has economized developing industrial processes with less energy and renewable raw materials thus it is an effective interdisciplinary and integrate natural and engineering sciences. Few textile industrial uses are focused here.


Fibers and Biopolymers:


Cotton, wool and silk natural textile fibers are an asset but biotechnology producing unique fibers and improve yields of existing fibers. Cotton is leading worldwide textile fiber with ca 20 million tons grown/year by about 85 countries but it is vulnerable to many insects, and to maintain yields, large amounts of pesticides are in use. Cotton is prone to infestation by weeds under intense irrigation conditions and needs throughout its growth cycle, and has poor tolerance to any of the herbicides. Hence biotechnologists have put forward short-term objectives on genetically engineering insect, disease and herbicide resistance into cotton plant along with modification of fiber quality and properties to have high performance cottons. Naturally colored cottons are attracting the world market hence transgenic intensely colored cottons (blues and vivid reds) is dream of the day that can replace bleaching and dyeing.


Biotechnology has largely influenced animal fiber production, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, diagnostics, genetically engineered vaccines and therapeutic drugs are other catchments of it. CSIRO, Australias national research organization is put up efforts for genetic modification of sheep to resist attack from blowfly larvae by engineering a sheep that secretes an insect repellent from its hair follicles and 'biological wool shearing'. And is expected to artificial epidermal growth factor which on injection into sheep interrupts hair growth, within a month, it breaks up in wool fiber and fleece can be pulled off whole in half the time it takes to shear a sheep.


Fermentation is developing biopolymers at large-scale i.e. bacterial storage compound polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is developed by Zeneca Bioproducts and is as produced 'Biopol'. It high molecular weight linear polyester and thermoplastic (melts at 180C) and can be melt spun into biocompatible and biodegradable fibers suitable for surgical use where human body &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(2415)%>" target="_new">enzymes slowly degrade sutures. Biopol is being used as conventional plastics for shampoo bottles but it is not economic, research is on to produce Biopol from plants, probably from genetically engineered variety of rape. Polysaccharides chitin, alginate, dextran and hyaluronic acid biopolymers are of interest in wound &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(2415)%>" target="_new">healing as chitin and its derivative chitosan are important components of fungal cell walls, at present manufactured from sea food (shellfish) wastes. Patents taken out by Japanese Unitika cite a use of fibers made out of chitin in wound dressings. At BTTG, research has been directed for use of intact fungal filaments as a direct source of chitin or chitosan fiber to produce inexpensive wound dressings and other novel materials. Tests are carried out at Welsh School of Pharmacy indicate that these products have wound healing acceleration properties. Wound dressings based on &sec=article&uinfo=<%=server.URLEncode(2415)%>" target="_new">calcium alginate fibers have already been developed by Courtaulds and are marketed as 'Sorbsan'. Present supplies of this polysaccharide rely on its extraction from brown seaweeds. However, a polymer of similar structure can also be produced by fermentation from certain species of bacteria. Dextran, which is manufactured by fermentation of sucrose by Leuconostoc mesenteroides or related species of bacteria, is also being developed as a fibrous non-woven for specialty end-uses such as wound dressings. Additional unique biopolymers are now coming onto market thanks to biotechnology e.g. hyaluronic acid a polydisaccharide of D-glucuronic acid and N-acetyl glucosamine found in connective tissue matrices of vertebrates and is also present in capsules of some bacteria. The original method of production by extraction from rooster combs was very inefficient requiring 5 kg of rooster combs to provide 4 g of hyaluronic acid. Fermentech, a British biotechnology company, is now producing hyaluronic acid by fermentation. The same amount of high quality purified hyaluronic acid can be obtained from 4 liters of fermentation broth as opposed to 5 kg of rooster combs.


Different biotechnological routes for cellulose production are being worked out globally, cellulose is produced as an extra cellular polysaccharide by several bacteria in form of ribbon-like micro fibrils, and can be used to produce moulded materials of relatively high strength. Sony, a Japanese electronics company has patented a way of making hi-fi loudspeaker cones and diaphragms from bacterial cellulose. An alternative route to cellulose, still at a very early stage of development, concerns in vitro cultivation of plant cells. Culturing cells of various strains of Gossypium can produce cotton fibers in vitro include a more uniform product displaying particularly desirable properties. Plant tissue culture can provide a steady, all year supply of products without climatic or geographic limitations free of contamination from pests. Proteins are interesting biopolymers for utilizing new genetic manipulation techniques where animal and plant proteins genes (e.g. collagen, various silks) can now be transferred into suitable microbial hosts and proteins produced by fermentation. US army is taking up spider silk as a high performance fiber for bulletproof vests.