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STTR Phase I: Novel Analysis Tools for Production of Higher Indican Yielding Plants for Bio-based Indigo
Phone: (615) 306-3154
Phone: (615) 306-3154
Contact: Robert Moore
Type: Nonprofit College or University
The broader impacts of this Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project relate to the increased viability of indigo as an agricultural crop competing with synthetically manufactured indigo dye. Indigo was among the major global cash crops of the 18th and 19th centuries and accounted for 100% of the indigo dye consumed in the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 100% of the indigo dye consumed in the world has been synthetically manufactured from petroleum derivatives and hazardous and toxic chemicals. A small amount of plant-derived indigo dye is produced throughout the world using traditional artisan methods largely unchanged for centuries, but this supply is highly variable in purity and consistency and is far from cost competitive with synthetically manufactured indigo dye. Stony Creek Colors in cooperation with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center seeks through this project to improve the available indigo planting stock by creating a high-throughput handheld assay device capable of rapid measurements of the chemical precursors for indigo which exist naturally in the plant leaves. During this process the team will also improve the understanding of the genetics of the existing indigo planting stock through DNA analysis of specific high-yielding plant varieties. The technical objectives in this Phase I research project are to develop new tools, both genomic and phenomic, for analyzing the indigo crop Persicaria tinctoria, to produce an improved bio-based specialty chemical derived from renewable, abundant plant-material. The STTR project will map existing genetic resources while developing a unique approach for plant indican (indigo precursor) analysis which will enable non-destructive analysis of plant leaves in breeding lines. Finally, a genetic mapping population between high and low indican-producing parent plants will be constructed for analysis and laboratory validation. Successful completion of the Phase I tasks tied to these objectives will prove the feasibility of selecting and maintaining high indigotin yielding strains of P. tinctoria. These improvements will be commercialized through higher indigotin yielding breeders seed stock and will be spread to over 26,000 acres of cropland in the Southeast US within 6 years, resulting in a more reliable and cost-competitive bio-based indigo dye extracted from U.S. grown plant material. This will allow plant-derived indigo to be more cost-competitive with synthetic indigo dye and to meet the immediate market demand for U.S. bio-based indigo by denim mills.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *