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Status of natural dyes and dye-yielding plants in India

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Indians have been considered as forerunners in the art of natural dyeing. Natural dyes find use in the colouring of textiles, drugs, cosmetics, etc. Owing to their non-toxic effects, they are also used for colouring various food products. In India, there are more than 450 plants that can yield dyes. In addition to their dye-yielding characteristics, some of these plants also possess medicinal value. Though there is a large plant resource base, little has been exploited so far. Due to lack of availability of precise technical knowledge on the extracting and dyeing technique, it has not commercially succeeded like the synthetic dyes. Although indigenous knowledge system has been practised over the years in the past, the use of natural dyes has diminished over generations due to lack of documentation. Also there is not much information available on databases of either dye-yielding plants or their products. In this article we review the availability of natural dyes, their extraction, applications, mordant types, advantages and disadvantages.
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e-mail: rsiva77in@rediffmail.com
Status of natural dyes and dye-yielding plants
in India
R. Siva
School of Biotechnology, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore 632 014, India
Indians have been considered as forerunners in the art
of natural dyeing. Natural dyes find use in the colouring
of textiles, drugs, cosmetics, etc. Owing to their non-
toxic effects, they are also used for colouring various
food products. In India, there are more than 450 plants
that can yield dyes. In addition to their dye-yielding
characteristics, some of these plants also possess medi-
cinal value. Though there is a large plant resource base,
little has been exploited so far. Due to lack of availabi-
lity of precise technical knowledge on the extracting and
dyeing technique, it has not commercially succeeded
like the synthetic dyes.
Although indigenous knowledge system has been
practised over the years in the past, the use of natural
dyes has diminished over generations due to lack of
documentation. Also there is not much information
available on databases of either dye-yielding plants or
their products. In this article we review the availabil-
ity of natural dyes, their extraction, applications,
mordant types, advantages and disadvantages.
Keywords: Colourants, mordants, natural dyes, plants.
To understand the concepts of natural dyes and dye-yielding
plants, there are three basic questions to be addressed:
Why only certain plants are able to yield dyes? How does
the plant benefit by producing dyes? What is the evolu-
tionary explanation for production of dyes? Answers to
the first two questions can be substantiated with two further
questions, i.e. ‘Why do plants have so many different col-
ours?’ and ‘What purpose might they serve for the plant?’.
Green in most leaves is surely the most ubiquitous plant
colour. The green pigment chlorophyll in leaves helps capture
the sun’s energy and converts it to chemical energy,
which is then stored and used as food for the plant. Colours
in flowers are adaptations that attract insects and other
animals that in turn pollinate and help the plants reproduce.
Some plants have colourful fruits that attract animals to
eat them, thus inadvertently spreading the plant’s seeds as
they do so. Scientists believe that other pigments may help
protect plants from diseases. Despite what we know about
the role of a few of the thousands of plant pigments, the role
of most colours in plants remains a mystery to us till date.
Although plants exhibit a wide range of colours, not all
of these pigments can be used as dyes. Some do not dissolve
in water, some cannot be adsorbed on-to fibres, whereas
others fade when washed or exposed to air or sunlight. It
remains a mystery, why plants reward us with vibrant dyes.
India has a rich biodiversity and it is not only one of
the world’s twelve megadiversity countries, but also one
of the eight major centres of origin and diversification of
domesticated taxa. It has approximately 490,000 plant
species of which about 17,500 are angiosperms; more than
400 are domesticated crop species and almost an equal num-
ber their wild relatives
1
. Thus, India harbours a wealth of
useful germplasm resources and there is no doubt that the
plant kingdom is a treasure-house of diverse natural
products. One such product from nature is the dye.
Natural dyes are environment-friendly, for example,
turmeric, the brightest of naturally occurring yellow dyes is
a powerful antiseptic which revitalizes the skin, while in-
digo gives a cooling sensation
2
.
After the accidental synthesis of mauveine by Perkin in
Germany in 1856 and its subsequent commercialization,
coal-tar dyes began to compete with natural dyes. The
advent of synthetic dyes caused rapid decline in the use
of natural dyes, which were completely replaced by the
former within a century
3
. However, research has shown
that synthetic dyes are suspected to release harmful chemicals
that are allergic, carcinogenic and detrimental to human
health. Ironically, in 1996 Germany became the first country
to ban certain azo dyes
4
.
In this article, we review the origin of natural dyes,
plants and animals yielding dyes, chemical nature of these
dyes, their advantages with limitation, technology involved
with natural dyes production and present status of these
dyes.
History
Natural dyes, dyestuff and dyeing are as old as textiles
themselves. Man has always been interested in colours; the
art of dyeing has a long past and many of the dyes go back
into prehistory. It was practised during the Bronze Age in
Europe. The earliest written record of the use of natural
dyes was found in China dated 2600 BC. Dyeing was known
as early as in the Indus Valley period (2500 BC); this
knowledge has been substantiated by findings of coloured
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garments of cloth and traces of madder dye in the ruins of
the Indus Valley Civilization at Mohenjodaro and Harappa
(3500 BC). Natural matter was used to stain hides, deco-
rate shells and feathers, and in cave paintings. Scientists
have been able to date the black, white, yellow and reddish
pigments made from ochre used by primitive man in cave
paintings. In Egypt, mummies have been found wrapped in
dyed cloth. Chemical tests of red fabrics found in the
tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt show the presence of
alizarin, a pigment extracted from madder. In more modern
times, Alexander the Great mentioned having found pur-
ple robes dating to 541 BC in the royal treasury when he
conquered Susa, the Persian capital. Kermes (from the
Kermes insect) is identified in the Book of Exodus in the
Bible, where references are made to scarlet coloured linen.
By the 4th century AD, dyes such as woad, madder, weld,
Brazilwood, indigo and a dark reddish-purple were known.
Brazil was named after the woad found there
5
.
Henna was used even before 2500 BC, while saffron is
mentioned in the Bible
6
. The first use of the blue dye, woad
by the ancient Britons, may have originated in Palestine,
where it was found growing wild. The most famous and
highly prized colour through the ages was Tyrian purple
(noted in the Bible), a dye obtained from the spiny dye-
murex shellfish. The Phoenicians prepared it until the
seventh century, when Arab conquerors destroyed their
dyeing installations in the Levant. In the prehistoric times
man used to crush berries to colour mud for his cave paint-
ings. Primitive men used plant dyestuff for colouring
animal skin and to their own skin during religious festi-
vals as well as during wars. They believed that the colour
would give them magical powers, protect them from evil
spirits and help them to achieve victory in war
7
.
Dyes might have been discovered accidentally, but their
use has become so much a part of man’s customs that it is
difficult to imagine a modern world without dyes. The art
of dyeing spread widely as civilization advanced
8
.
Primitive dyeing techniques included sticking plants to
fabric or rubbing crushed pigments into cloth. The methods
became more sophisticated with time and techniques using
natural dyes from crushed fruits, berries and other plants,
which were boiled into the fabric and which gave light
and water fastness (resistance), were developed. Some of
the well-known ancient dyes include madder, a red dye made
from the roots of the Rubia tinctorum L., blue indigo
from the leaves of Indigofera tinctoria L., yellow from the
stigmas of the saffron plant (Crocus sativus L.) and from
turmeric (Curcuma longa L.).
Today, dyeing is a complex and specialized science.
Nearly all dyestuff are now produced from synthetic
compounds. This means that costs have been greatly reduced
and certain application and wear characteristics have been
greatly enhanced. However, practitioners of the craft of
natural dying (i.e. using naturally occurring sources of dye)
maintain that natural dyes have a far superior aesthetic
quality, which is much more pleasing to the eye. On the
other hand, many commercial practitioners feel that natural
dyes are non-viable on grounds of both quality and eco-
nomics. In the West, natural dyeing is now practised only
as a handcraft, while synthetic dyes are being used in all
commercial applications. Some craft spinners, weavers
and knitters use natural dyes as a particular feature of
their work.
Types of natural dyes and mordants
Natural dyes can be sorted into three categories: natural
dyes obtained from plants, animals and minerals. Although
some fabrics such as silk and wool can be coloured simply
by being dipped in the dye, others such as cotton require a
mordant.
Mordant
Dyes do not interact directly with the materials they are
intended to colour. Natural dyes are substantive and require
a mordant to fix to the fabric, and prevent the colour from
either fading with exposure to light or washing out. These
compounds bind the natural dyes to the fabrics. A mordant
is an element which aids the chemical reaction that takes
place between the dye and the fibre, so that the dye is ab-
sorbed. Containers used for dying must be non-reactive
(enamel, stainless steel). Brass, copper or iron pots will
do their own mordanting.
Not all dyes need mordants to help them adhere to fabric.
If they need no mordants, such as lichens and walnut hulls,
they are called substantive dyes. If they need a mordant,
they are called adjective dyes. Common mordants are alum
(usually used with cream of tartar, which helps evenness
and brightens slightly); iron (or copper) (which saddens
or darken colours, bringing out green shades); tin (usually
used with cream of tartar, which blooms or brightens col-
ours, especially reds, oranges and yellows), and blue vitriol
(which saddens colours and brings out greens shades).
There are three types of mordant: Metallic mordants:
Metal salts of aluminium, chromium, iron, copper and tin
are used. Tannins: Myrobalan and sumach are commonly
used in the textile industry. Oil mordants: These are
mainly used in dyeing turkey red colour from madder.
The main function of the oil mordant is to form a com-
plex with alum used as the main mordent.
Natural dyes obtained from plants
Many natural dyestuff and stains were obtained mainly
from plants and dominated as sources of natural dyes,
producing different colours like red, yellow, blue, black,
brown and a combination of these (Table 1). Almost all
parts of the plants like root, bark, leaf, fruit, wood, seed,
flower, etc. produce dyes. It is interesting to note that over
2000 pigments are synthesized by various parts of plants,
of which only about 150 have been commercially exploi-
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Table 1. Sources of different coloured dyes and mordants
20
Colour Botanical name Parts used Mordants
Red dye
Safflower Carthamus tinctorius L. Flower
Caesalpinia Caesalpinia sappan L. Wood Alum
Madder Rubia tinctorium L. Wood Alum
Log wood Haematoxylon campechianum L. Wood
Khat palak Rumex dentatus L. Wood Alum
Indian mulberry Morinda tinctoria L. Wood Alum
Kamala Mallotus philippinensis Muell. Flower Alum
Lac Coccus lacca Kerr. Insect Stannic chloride
Yellow dye
Golden rod Solidago grandis DC. Flower Alum
Teak Tectona grandis L.f. Leaf Alum
Marigold Tagetes sp. Flower Chrome
Saffron Crocus sativus L. Flower Alum
Flame of the forest Butea monosperma (Lam) Taubert. Flower Alum
Blue dye
Indigo Indigofera tinctoria L. Leaf Alum
Woad Isatis tinctoria L. Leaf
Sunt berry Acacia nilotica (L.) Del. Seed pod
Pivet Ligustrum vulgare L. Fruit Alum and iron
Water lily Nymphaea alba L. Rhizome Iron and acid
Black dye
Alder Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. Bark Ferrous sulphate
Rofblamala Loranthus pentapetalus Roxb. Leaf Ferrous sulphate
Custard apple Anona reticulata L. Fruit
Harda Terminalia chebula Retz. Fruit Ferrous sulphate
Orange dye
Annota Bixa orellena L. Seed Alum
Dhalia Dhalia sp. Flower Alum
Lily Convallaria majalis L. Leaf Ferrous sulphate
Nettles Urtica dioica L. Leaf Alum
ted. Nearly 450 taxa are known to yield dyes in India
alone
9
, of which 50 are considered to be the most impor-
tant; ten of these are from roots, four from barks, five
from leaves, seven from flowers, seven from fruits, three from
seeds, eight from wood and three from gums and resins
7
.
Some important dye-yielding plant habitats, their distribu-
tion and colouring pigments are given in Table 2.
The increasing market demand for dyes and the dwin-
dling number of dye-yielding plants forced the emergence
of synthetic dyes like aniline and coal-tar, which threat-
ened total replacement of natural dyes. Even today, some
dyes continue to be derived from natural sources; for ex-
ample, dyes for lipstick are still obtained from Bixa orellana
L. and Lithospermum erythrorhizon Sieb & Zucc., and those
for eye shadow from indigo. Tables 2 and 3 show some of
the important dye-yielding plants used traditionally. The
content or amount of dye present in the plants varies greatly
depending on the season as well as age of the plants
10
.
There are also several factors which influence the content
of the dye in each dye-yielding plant. In some cases, the
dye content has not been thoroughly studied so far.
Medicinal properties of natural dyes: Many of the
plants used for dye extraction are classified as medicinal,
and some of these have recently been shown to possess
antimicrobial activity
11
. Punica granatum L. and many
other common natural dyes are reported as potent antimicro-
bial agents owing to the presence of a large amount of tan-
nins. Several other sources of plant dyes rich in naphtho-
quinones such as lawsone from Lawsonia inermis L.
(henna), juglone from walnut and lapachol from alkannet
are reported to exhibit antibacterial and antifungal acti-
vity
12–14
.
Singh et al.
15
studied the antimicrobial activity of some
natural dyes. Optimized natural dye powders of Acacia
catechu (L.f.) Willd, Kerria lacca, Rubia cordifolia L.
and Rumex maritimus were obtained from commercial in-
dustries and they showed antimicrobial activities. This is
clear evidence that some natural dyes by themselves have
medicinal properties.
Another example is lycopene a carotenoid pigment
responsible for red colour in tomato, watermelon, carrot
and other fruits; it is also used as a colour ingredient in
many food formulations. It has received considerable at-
tention in recent years because of its possible role in the
prevention of chronic diseases such as prostate cancer
16,17
.
Epidemiological studies have also shown that increased
consumption of lycopene-rich food such as tomatoes is
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Table 2. Important dye-yielding plants with pigments
Plant Colour obtained Pigment Dye content Habitat and distribution
Acacia catechu (L.f.)
Willd.
Brown, black Catechin,
catechutanic
acid
The chief constituents of the heart-
wood vary from 4 to 7% and are
distributed throughout the heart-
wood from the root to the branches.
Occurs throughout India in dry types of
mixed forest on a variety of
geological formations and soils.
Adhatoda vasica Nees. Yellow Adhatodic acid,
carotein,
lutolin,
quercetin
Distributed throughout India, up to an
attitude of 1300 m; grows on waste
land and in a variety of habitats and
soil. It is sometimes cultivated as hedge.
Bixa orellena L. Orange, red Bixin, norbixin The dye content is 56% by
weight of seed. A carotenoid
bixin comprises 7080% in
each seed.
The small tree is found to thrive at
elevations of 600–900 m; native to
tropical America, it has become
naturalized in the hotter parts of India.
Butea monosperma
(Lam) Taubert.
Yellow or
orange
Butrin
Commonly found throughout India, ex-
cept in the arid region. It grows on
black cotton soil, even on saline, alka-
line and swampy badly drained soils
and in barren lands.
Carthamus tinctorious L. Yellow, red Carthamin The chief constituent carthamin
ranges from 3 to 6% of the
flower.
Cultivated throughout India. It requires
fertile, moisture-retentive and
well-drained soil.
Curcuma longa L. Yellow Curcumin Percentage of curcumin varies
from 5.4 to 8.7.
Turmeric grown generally as an annual
crop. It is cultivable from sea level up
to 1200 m. It thrives in well-drained,
fertile, sandy and clayey, black red soil.
Indigofera tinctoria L. Blue Indigotin,
Indican
Indigotin content varies according
to season and age of the plant.
Best grade contains 7090% in
dried leaves.
Distributed commonly in the tropical
region.
Lawsonia inermis L. Orange Lawsone The principle colouring matter,
lawsone is present in dried
leaves at a concentration of
1.01.4%.
It is mainly cultivated in Tamil Nadu,
Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It can
grows on any type of soil from light
loam to clay loam, but grows best on
heavy soil.
Mallotus philippensis
Muell.
Red Rottlerin The yield of powder rottlerin is
1.43.7% of the weight of the
fresh fruits.
Found throughout India; occasionally
ascending to 1500 m in the outer Hi-
malayas. Commonly found in Sal and
certain shrub and mixed forests.
Morinda citrifolia L. Yellow, red Morindone Roots are dug out when the plants
are 34 yrs old, dried and sorted
for use by the dyeing trade.
A small tree distributed throughout the
tropics.
Oldenlandia umbellata L.
Red Alizarin, Rubi-
cholric acid
Prostrate herb distributed in the tropical
and subtropical region.
Pterocarpus
santalinus L.
Red Santalin Red sanders contains 16% of a
colouring matter, santalin
(santalic acid).
Grows typically on dry, hilly, often
rocky ground and is occasionally
found growing on precipitous hillside.
Punica granatum L. Yellow Petargonidon
3,5,digluco-
side
Mostly found cultivated in many parts of
India, the tree is also common and
gregarious in the gravel and boulder
deposits of dry ravines and similar
places in the outer Himalayas up to
about 1800 m.
Rubia cordifolia L. Red Purpurin Purpurin per cent vary from 2.0 to
4.0.
A hardy climbers common throughout
India, ascending to an altitude of
3750 m.
Semecarpus
anacardium L.f.
Black Bhilawanol Bhilawanol ranging from 28 to
36% of dry weight of seed.
The tree is common in forests often
found occurring with Sal, throughout
the hotter parts of India.
Toddalia asiatica (L.)
Lam.
Yellow Toddaline
In South India, the plant is common in
the Nilgris and Palani hills, and also
in the scrubby jungles of Orissa.
Wrightia tinctoria R. Br. Blue β-amyrine Leaves are the source of a blue
dye called Mysore pala-indigo
and β-amyrine ranges from
3.35.0% of dried leaves.
Distributed in Rajasthan, Madhya
Pradesh and peninsular India,
ascending to an altitude of 1200 m in
the hills.
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Table 3. Dye-yielding plants with its medicinal value
Botanical name Family English name Parts used Colour Medicinal use
Abies spectabilis
(D.Don.) Spach.
Pinaceae East Himalayan
silver fir
Cone Purple or
violet
Used for curing cough.
Acacia catechu (L.f.)
Willd.
Mimosaceae Cutch tree Bark Brown/black Kheersal is used medicinally for sore throat
and cough.
Acacia dealbata Link Mimosaceae Silver wattle Bark Brown/black Used in bronchial infection.
Acanthophonax trifolia-
tum (L.) Merr.
Araliaceae Fruit Black Used in paralysis; roots cooked and eaten.
Actaea spicata L. Ranunculaceae Banberry grape
wort
Seed Black, red,
green
Rhizomes are used for nervous disorders and
uterine tenderness.
Adathoda vasica Nees. Acanthaceae Adalsa Leaf Yellow Used in bronchial infection
Aegle marmelos (L.)
Corr.
Rutaceae Bael fruit Fruit rind Yellow Unripe or half-ripe fruit is astringent, used as
digestive and for curing stomachache diar-
rhoea.
Ailanthus triphysa
(Dennst.) Alston.
Simaroubaceae Leaf Black Bark carminative, tonic and febrifuge; juice
used for asthma and bronchitis and also for
dysentery.
Aloe barbadensis (L.)
Burm.f.
Lilliaceae Curaco aloe;
Indian aloe
Whole
plant
Red Fresh juice of leaves is cathartic and refriger-
ant used in liver and spleen ailments and
for eye infections, useful in X-ray burns
and other skin disorders.
Althea rosea Cav. Malvaceae Holly hock Flower Red Considered emollient, demulcent and
diuretic, used in chest complaints.
Ardisia solanacea
Roxb.
Myrstinaceae Berry Yellow Roots used in diarrhoea and rheumatism.
Arnebia benthamii
(Wall. ex G. Don)
Boraginaceae Pan Under-
ground
parts
Purple Stimulant, tonic, diuretic, and expectorant
used in infection of tongue and throat, and
also cardiac disorders and fever.
Arnebia guttata Bunge Boraginaceae Root Red Roots are also used for cough.
Azadirachta indica A.
Juzz
Meliaceae Neem Bark Brown Skin disorders, leaves considered as
antiseptic.
Barleria prionitis L. Acanthaceae Flower Yellow Juice of leaves given with honey in catarrhal
infections of children. A paste of the roots
applied to boils and glandular swellings.
Bassia latifolia Roxb./
Madhuca indica
J.F.Gmel
Sapotaceae Butter tree Bark Yellow,
brown
Used in rheumatism and skin infections and
as a laxative in cases of habitual constipa-
tion and piles.
Bauhinia tomentosa L. Caesalpinaceae Leaf Yellow Decoction of root bark used for inflammation
of liver and as vermifuge. Dry leaves, buds
and flowers used in dysentery.
Bauhinia variegate L. Caesalpinaceae
Mahua tree Bark Yellow Roots carminative, decoction prevents
obesity, bark tonic and anthelminitic used
in scrofula and cutaneous diseases; also
used for ulcer and leprosy. Dried flowers
eaten in case of diarrhoea, dysentery and
piles.
Betula utilis D.Don Betulaceae Himalayan silver
birch
Tree gum Brown Infusion of bark is aromatic and antiseptic;
also used as a carminative.
Briedelia stipularis L. Euphorbiaceae Fruit Black Decoction of the bark used for cough, fever
and asthma. Leaves used in case of
jaundice.
Butea monosperma
(Lam) Taubert.
Papilonaceae Flame of the forest Flower Yellow,
orange
Bark astringent, used for piles, tumour and
menstrual disorders. Gum is astringent and
used in diarrhoea.
Caesalpinia sappan L. Caesalpinaceae
Bastard teak,
Bengal kino
Wood,
bark
Red Decoction provides relief in mild cases of
dysentery and diarrhoea.
Carthamus tinctorius L. Asteraceae Safflower Flower Red, yellow Oil applied to sores and rheumatic swelling;
also used in case of jaundice.
Cassia auriculata L. Caesalpinaceae
Tanner’s cassia Flower,
seed
Yellow Leaves and fruit anthelminthic. Seeds used in eye
infection. Roots employed in skin disorders.
(Contd…)
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Table 3. (Contd…)
Botanical name Family English name Parts used Colour Medicinal use
Cassia occidentalis L. Caesalpinaceae
Negro coffee Seed Brown Seeds used in external application for skin
disorders.
Cassytha filiformis L. Lauraceae Stem Brown Used in bilious afflictions, urethritis chronic
dysentery, and eye and skin infections.
Cedrela toona Roxb./
Toona ciliata Roem
Red cedar Flower,
seed, leaf
Yellow/red Bark used for chronic dysentery of infants
and also in external application of ulcer.
Citrus medica L. Rutaceae Citron, lime Bark Black Used for curing dysentery.
Clitoria ternatea L. Fabaceae Flower Blue Roots are powerful cathartic and diuretic.
Cordia myxa L. Boraginaceae Roots, leaf Yellow, red Astringent, anthelmenthic, diuretic demulcent
and expectorant, used in diseases of chest
and urinary tract.
Coscinium fenestratum
(Gaertn.) Clolebr.
Menisper-
maceae
Tree turmeric Seed, bark,
wood
Red Root considered bitter tonic and used in
dressing wounds and ulcers.
Crocus sativus L. Iridaceae Saffron Flower Yellow,
orange
Used as sedative and emmenagogue.
Cyanometra
ramiflora L.
Caesalpinaceae
Wood Black Oil from seed used for leprosy, scabies and
other cutaneous diseases.
Dioscorea bulbifera L. Dioscoreaceae Potato yam, air
potato
Tuber Pale colour Used for ulcers, piles and dysentery.
Diospyros embryopteris
Pers.
Ebenaceae Gaub persimmon Fruit Brown Seeds used for dysentery and diarrhoea.
Dipterocarpus turbina-
tus Gaertn.
Dipterocar-
paceae
Common Gurjan
tree
Twig, bark Yellow,
brown
Oleoresin, an oil is applied to ulcers.
Elaeodendron glaucum
(Rottb.) Pers.
Celasteraceae Bark Red To cure stomach pain.
Eugenia jambolana
Lam.
Myrtaceae Bark, leaf Red Decoction of bark and seeds used in diabetes.
Euphorbia tirucalli L. Euphorbiaceae Wood Red Toothache.
Flemingia congesta
Roxb.
Fabaceae Pod Red, yellow Roots used for preparation of external
application for ulcer and swelling.
Galium aparine L. Rubiaceae Goose grass Root Purple Infusion of herb used as an aperient diuretic,
refrigerant and antiscorbatic.
Galium
rotundifolium L.
Rubiaceae Root Yellow,
brown
Used for colic, sore throat and chest
complaints.
Galium verum L. Rubiaceae Cheese rennet Root Yellow, red Considered purgative and diuretic. Decoction
used in epilepsy and hysteria.
Garcinia
mangostana L.
Guttiferae Mangosteen Fruit Black Used in diarrhoea and dysentery.
Gardenia jasminoides
J. Ellis
Rubiaceae Cape jasmine Fruit Yellow Roots used in nervous disorder, fruit
stimulant, emetic and diuretic used in
jaundice and pulmonary disorder.
Geranium wallichianum
D.Don
Geraniaceae Wallich cranesbill Fruit, root Yellow, red,
brown
Astringent used in toothache and eye
infection.
Haematoxylon cam-
pechianum L.
Mimosaceae Log wood Heart
wood
Red Decoction used in diarrhoea, dysentery,
atonic dyspepsia and leucorehoea.
Heliotropium
trigosum L.
Boraginaceae Leaf Black Laxative and diuretic. Juice applied to sore
eyes; also used for boils, wounds and
ulcers.
(Contd…)
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Table 3. (Contd…)
Botanical name Family English name Parts used Colour Medicinal use
Indigofera
aspalathoides Vahl.
Fabaceae Wiry indigo Leaf Blue-black Leaves, flowers and tender shoots demulcent,
used in cancer and leprosy.
Indigofera hirsuta L. Fabaceae Leaf Indigo Decoction of leaves in stomachic and used in
diarrhoea and jaws.
Indigofera tinctoria L. Fabaceae Indian indigo,
common indigo
Leaf Blue, blue-
black
Extract used in epilepsy and other nervous
disorders; in the form of ointment used for
sores, old ulcers and piles. Root used in
urinary complaints and hepatitis.
Jatropha curcas L. Euphorbiaceae Physic nut, purging
nut
Bark, leaf Blue Used in sciatica, dropsy and paralysis, and
externally for skin disorders and rheumatism.
Kirganelia reticulate
(Poir) Baill.
Euphorbiaceae Bark, root Red Leaves diuretic, used for diarrhoea in case of
infants.
Lawsonia inermis L. Lythraceae Henna Leaf Orange, red Used as prophylactic against skin disorders.
Lycopus europaeus L. Gipsy wort Fruit Green Useful for treatment of hyperthyrosis; inhibits
the action of thyrotropic harmine and thy-
roxin output of thyroid.
Mallotus philippiensis
Muell.
Euphorbiaceae Kamala tree Fruit Red Glandular hairs from fruits yield a Kamala
powder, employed as an antioxidant for
ghee, as an antihelminthic and for
cutaneous infections.
Malphigia glabra L. Malpigiaceae Barbedos cherry Flower Yellow Fruits used in diarrhoea, dysentery and liver
disorders.
Melastoma mala-
bathricum L.
Indian rhododen-
dron
Fruit Black,
purple
Bark and leaves used for skin disorders.
Michelia champaka L. Magnoliaceae Champak Flower Yellow Flowers uses as tonic for stomachache and
carminative, used in dyspepsia, nausea and
fever, also useful as a diuretic in renal
diseases.
Mimusops elengi L. Sapotaceae Bullet wood Bark Brown Bark and fruits used in diarrhoea and
dysentery.
Morinda citrifolia L. Rubiaceae Root Red, yellow Fruits used for spongy gums, throat infection,
dysentery, leucorrhoea and sapraemia.
Morinda umbellata L. Rubiaceae Root Red Decoction of roots and leaves useful in
diarrhoea and dysentery.
Naregamia alata Wight
& Arn.
Meliaceae Leaf Red Useful in chronic bronchitis.
Nyctanthes
arbortristis L.
Oleaceae Coral jasmine Flower Yellow Used in rheumatism and fever.
Oldenlandia
umbellata L.
Rubiaceae Chay-root Root Red Used for asthma and bronchitis.
Oxalis corniculata L. Oxalidaceae Indian sorrel Leaf Blue Fruit juice of plants given in dyspepsia, piles,
anaemia and tympanitis.
Papaver rhoeas L. Papaveraceae Corn poppy Petal Red Fresh petals used in preparation of galinicals,
syrup or tincture used for colouring
medicines.
Peltophorum pterocar-
pum (DC.) K.Heyne
Caesalpini-
aceae
Copper pod Wood, leaf Brown, black
Used for eye infection, muscular pains and
sores.
Perilla ocimoidea L. Labiatae Kumboo millet Fruit Black Herb sedative, anti-spasmodic and
diaphoretic, used in cephalic and uterine
disorders.
Pistacia
intergerrima L.
Anacardiaceae East Indian
mastechae
Flower,
leaf
Yellow Useful for asthma and other respiratory tract
disorders and also for dysentery.
Toddalia asiatica (L.)
Lam.
Rutaceae Wild orange Root Yellow Has diaphoretic, stomachache relieving and
antipyretic properties. Root is also used for
treatment of cough.
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CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 92, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2007
923
associated with a low risk of cancer
18
. Also it is interesting
to note that lycopene is the precursor to bixin and nor-
bixin, pigments from Bixa orellena, commonly used for
colouring foodstuff.
Apart from dye-yielding property, some plants are also
used traditionally for medicinal purposes
9,11–18
(Table 3).
Natural dyes obtained from minerals
Ocher is a dye obtained from an impure earthy ore of iron
or ferruginous clay, usually red (hematite) or yellow (limo-
nite). In addition to being the principal ore of iron, hema-
tite is a constituent of a number of abrasives and
pigments.
Natural dyes obtained from animals
Cochineal is a brilliant red dye produced from insects living
on cactus plants. The properties of the cochineal bug
were discovered by pre-Columbian Indians, who dried the
female insects under the sun, and then ground the dried
bodies to produce a rich red powder. When mixed with
water, the powder produced a deep, vibrant red colour.
Cochineal is still harvested today on the Canary Islands.
In fact, most cherries today have a bright red appearance
through the artificial colour ‘carmine’, which is obtained
from the cochineal insect.
Characterization of dyes
A dye can be defined as a highly coloured substance used
to impart colour to an infinite variety of materials like
textiles, paper, wood, varnishes, leather, ink, fur, food-
stuff, cosmetics, medicine, toothpaste, etc. As far as the
chemistry of dyes is concerned, a dye molecule has two
principal chemical groups, viz. chromophores and auxochro-
mes. The chromophore, usually an aromatic ring, is asso-
ciated with the colouring property. It has unsaturated bonds
such as C=C, =C=O, CS, =CNH, CH=N, N=N
and N=O, whose number decides the intensity of the
colour. The auxochrome helps the dye molecule to com-
bine with the substrate, thus imparting colour to the latter
19
.
Chemistry of natural dyes
Dyes are classified based on their chemical structure, sources
(Table 1), method of application, colour, etc. As a model
study here we explain the chemistry as described by
Vankar
20
. They are classified into the following groups
based on chemical structure (Scheme 1).
Indigo dyes: This is considered to be the most important
dye obtained from the plant I. tinctoria L.
Anthroquinone dyes: Some of the most important red
dyes are based on the anthroquinone structure. These are
obtained from both plants and insects. These dyes have
good fastness to light. They form complexes with metal
salts and the resultant metalcomplex dyes have good
fastness.
Alpha-hydroxy naphthoquinones: The most prominent
member of this class of dye is henna or lawsone (L. iner-
mis L.).
Flavones: Most of the natural yellow colours are hy-
droxy and methoxy derivatives of flavones and isoflavones.
Dihydropyrans: Closely related to flavones in chemical
structure are substituted dihydropyrans.
OCH
3
Anthocyananidin
Beta-carotene
Molecular structure of lycopene.
Scheme 1.
Flavone
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CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 92, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2007
924
Anthocyananidins: Carajurin obtained from Bignonia
chica Bonpl.
Carotenoids: In these the colour is due to the presence
of long conjugated double bonds. Typical examples for
this group are annato (B. orellena) and saffron.
Preparation of dyes
The dye is generally prepared by boiling the crushed
powder with water, but sometimes it is left to steep in
cold water. The solution then obtained is used generally
to dye coarse cotton fabrics. Alum is generally used as a
mordant. Flowers of Butea monosperma (Lam) Taubert.
yield an orange-coloured dye, which is not fast and is
easily washed away. For the purpose of colouring, the ma-
terial is steeped in a hot or cold decoction of the flowers. A
more permanent colour is produced either by first prepar-
ing the cloth with alum and wood ash, or by adding these
substances to the dye-bath. The dye indigo is produced by
steeping the plant in water and allowing it to ferment.
This is followed by oxidation of the solution with air in a
separate vessel. Mallotus philippinensis Muell. yields an
orange colour, used for dyeing silk and wool. To prepare
the annatto dye from B. orellena L., the fruits are collected
when nearly ripe. The seeds and pulp are removed from
the mature fruit and macerated with water. Thereafter, they
are either ground up into an ‘annatto paste’ or dried and
marketed as annatto seeds. Sometimes when the seeds
and pulp are macerated with water, the product is stained
through a sieve and the colouring matter which settles out
is collected and partially evaporated by heat and finally
dried in the sun
21
.
Advantages and limitations of natural dyes
Natural dyes are less toxic, less polluting, less health hazard-
ous, non-carcinogenic and non-poisonous. Added to this,
they are harmonizing colours, gentle, soft and subtle, and
create a restful effect. Above all, they are environment-
friendly and can be recycled after use.
Although natural dyes have several advantages, there
are some limitations as well. Tedious extraction of col-
ouring component from the raw material, low colour
value and longer time make the cost of dyeing with natural
dyes considerably higher than with synthetic dyes. Some
of the natural dyes are fugitive and need a mordant for
enhancement of their fastness properties. Some of the meta-
llic mordents are hazardous. Also there are problems like
difficulty in the collection of plants, lack of standardiza-
tion, lack of availability of precise technical knowledge
of extracting and dyeing technique and species availability.
Tyrian purple is obtained from the rare Mediterranean
molluse Murex brandavis. In order to obtain 14 g of the
dye about 1200 molluses are needed.
Technology for production of natural dyes and
colourants
Technology for production of natural dyes could vary
from simple aqueous to complicated solvent systems to
sophisticated supercritical fluid extraction techniques de-
pending on the product and purity required. Purification
may entail filtration or reverse osmosis or preparatory
HPLC, and drying of the product may be by spray or under
vacuum or using a freeze-drying technique. Use of bio-
technological methods to increase the yield of colourants
in plants is also being attempted in several laboratories in
India.
Genetic variation and dye content
Siva and Krishnamurthy
22
studied an important dye-yielding
plant, B. orellena, for understanding the relationship bet-
ween degree of genetic diversity (using isozymes) of
various populations and their pigment content. Bixin
(C
25
H
30
O
4
) and norbixin (C
24
H
28
O
4
) are carotenoid pig-
ments that form the main components of B. orellena. The
total amount of these two pigments in seed materials col-
lected from ten different geographical localities was esti-
mated using HPLC. It was interesting to learn that the
lowest band frequency shows the least total pigment and
bixin content. Similarly, greater band frequency (i.e. genetic
diversity) shows greatest dye content. In other words, it is
likely that individuals with greater genetic diversity may
have high dye content. Further critical study is needed to
establish the relationship between the geographical localities
with the dye content
23
.
Conclusion
Nowadays, fortunately, there is increasing awareness among
people towards natural products. Due to their non-toxic
properties, low pollution and less side effects, natural
dyes are used in day-to-day food products. Although the
Indian subcontinent possesses large plant resources, only
little has been exploited so far. More detailed studies and
scientific investigations are needed to assess the real poten-
tial and availability of natural dye-yielding resources and
for propagation of species in great demand on commercial
scale. Biotechnological and other modern techniques are
required to improve the quality and quantity of dye pro-
duction.
Due to lack of availability of precise technical knowledge
on the extraction and dyeing technique, it has not commer-
cially succeeded like synthetic dyes. Also, low colour
value and longer time make the cost of dyeing with natural
dyes considerably higher than with synthetic dyes.
Mahanta and Tiwari
2
identified a few rare, endangered
and endemic dye-yielding plant species during their study
in Arunachal Pradesh. They reported that species of Ilex
REVIEW ARTICLES
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 92, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2007
925
embelioides, Phaius tankervilliae and Entada purseatha
are rare treasures amidst the rich floral diversity of Aruna-
chal Pradesh. Numerous plant species are found to have
an important role in the day-to-day life of the ethnic and
local people. However, it is a matter of concern that the
indigenous knowledge of extraction, processing and practice
of using of natural dyes has diminished to a great extent
among the new generation of ethnic people due to easy
availability of cheap synthetic dyes. It has been observed
that the traditional knowledge of dye-making is now confined
only among the surviving older people and few practitioners
in the tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh. Unfortu-
nately, no serious attempts have been made to document
and preserve this immense treasure of traditional knowledge
of natural dye-making associated with the indigenous
people. Lack of a focused conservation strategy could also
cause a depletion of this valuable resource.
It is time that steps are taken towards documenting
these treasures of indigenous knowledge systems. Other-
wise, we are bound to lose vital information on the utilization
of natural resources around us.
To conclude, there is an urgent need for proper collection,
documentation, assessment and characterization of dye-
yielding plants and their dyes, as well as research to
overcome the limitation of natural dyes.
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8. Krishnamurthy, K. V., Siva, R. and Senthil Kumar, T., Natural
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ceedings of National Seminar on the Conservation of the Eastern
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pendium with Regional Names, PPST Foundation, Chennai, 1995.
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INEPT technique. Helv. Chim. Acta, 1989, 72, 659667.
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timicrobial activity of natural dyes. Dyes Pigm., 2005, 66, 99102.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. I am grateful to VIT Management for en-
couragement. Special thanks are due to Dr Preston Devasia for his
helpful comments.
Received 7 July 2006; revised accepted 1 November 2006
... Some do not dissolve in water, some cannot be adsorbed onto plant fibres, whereas others fade when washed or exposed to air or sunlight. In a recent review of plant dyes, Siva (2007) commented: "It remains a mystery, why plants reward us with vibrant dyes". ...
... One of the earliest indications of textile dyeing comes from a 5000-year-old piece of cloth coloured red with madder (Rubia cordifolia L., Family Rubiaceae) found in the Indus Valley Civilization sites at Mohenjo-Daro, in Pakistan (Siva, 2007). Madder continues to be a pre-eminent global dye plant. ...
... It is a climber, which grows abundantly in the forests of Pakistan, India, China, Korea, and Japan. The roots yield alizarin and several analogues (anthraquinonoids), which are pigments that have been used to dye silk and wool red since ancient times (Siva, 2007;Sabatini et al., 2020). ...
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Book Available online at: https://www.bhumipublishing.com/books/ PREFACE We are delighted to publish our book entitled "Advances in Microbiology Volume III". This book is the compilation of esteemed articles of acknowledged experts in the fields of microbiology and life science providing a sufficient depth of the subject to satisfy the need of a level which will be comprehensive and interesting. It is an assemblage of variety of information about advances and developments in microbiology and life science. With its application oriented and interdisciplinary approach, we hope that the students, teachers, researchers, scientists and policy makers will find this book much more useful. The articles in the book have been contributed by eminent scientists, academicians. Our special thanks and appreciation goes to experts and research workers whose contributions have enriched this book. We thank our publisher Bhumi Publishing, India for compilation of such nice data in the form of this book. Finally, we will always remain a debtor to all our well-wishers for their blessings, without which this book would not have come into existence.-Editors Advances in Microbiology Volume III CONTENTS
... These are the major pollutants that affect the soil and water, found toxic to the aquatic eco-system, toxic waste, skin allergy and other harmful effects to human body (Eichlerova et al., 2007 andKumar, 2013). India is being one among world's twelve mega diversity countries with the plant kingdom ,a rich source of diverse natural products, including natural dyes and finishes (Siva, 2007). ...
... Anthocyanins are polyphenolic pigments found throughout the plant kingdom. In plants, anthocyanins play a number of critical roles in reproduction, attracting pollinators/seed dispersers and in protection against various stresses, both abiotic and biotic (Siva 2007). Foliar anthocyanins (AnCs) are abundant in juvenile and senescing leaves; however, their distribution varies amongst species. ...
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Photosynthetic pigments are an integral and vital part of all photosynthetic machinery and are present in different types and abundances throughout the photosynthetic apparatus. Chlorophyll, carotenoids and phycobilins are the prime photosynthetic pigments which facilitate efficient light absorption in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. The chlorophyll family plays a vital role in light harvesting by absorbing light at different wavelengths and allowing photosynthetic organisms to adapt to different environments, either in the long-term or during transient changes in light. Carotenoids play diverse roles in photosynthesis, including light capture and as crucial antioxidants to reduce photodamage and photoinhibition. In the marine habitat, phycobilins capture a wide spectrum of light and have allowed cyanobacteria and red algae to colonise deep waters where other frequencies of light are attenuated by the water column. In this review, we discuss the potential strategies that photosynthetic pigments provide, coupled with development of molecular biological techniques, to improve crop yields through enhanced light harvesting, increased photoprotection and improved photosynthetic efficiency.
... Apart from their health benefits, pigments extracted from fruits have been found to have numerous applications as food colorants, in cosmetics, textiles & pharmaceutical industry [49] (Fig. 1). Considering the multifold applications of pigments, several extraction techniques ranging from conventional Soxhlet to the usage of novel techniques like electric field extraction have been designed to extract the desired pigments in optimum quantity and quality from fruits at various developmental stages of ripening (see Table 2). ...
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Background Fruits are vital food resources as they are loaded with bioactive compounds varying with different stages of ripening. As the fruit ripens, a dynamic color change is observed from green to yellow to red due to the biosynthesis of pigments like chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. Apart from making the fruit attractive and being a visual indicator of the ripening status, pigments add value to a ripened fruit by making them a source of nutraceuticals and industrial products. As the fruit matures, it undergoes biochemical changes which alter the pigment composition of fruits. Results The synthesis, degradation and retention pathways of fruit pigments are mediated by hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors. Manipulation of the underlying regulatory mechanisms during fruit ripening suggests ways to enhance the desired pigments in fruits by biotechnological interventions. Here we report, in-depth insight into the dynamics of a pigment change in ripening and the regulatory mechanisms in action. Conclusions This review emphasizes the role of pigments as an asset to a ripened fruit as they augment the nutritive value, antioxidant levels and the net carbon gain of fruits; pigments are a source for fruit biofortification have tremendous industrial value along with being a tool to predict the harvest. This report will be of great utility to the harvesters, traders, consumers, and natural product divisions to extract the leading nutraceutical and industrial potential of preferred pigments biosynthesized at different fruit ripening stages.
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Cassia auriculata is considered to be one of the important dye yielding and medicinal plants in India. In the present study seeds from fourteen different localities were collected all over India and nine enzymes were screened by native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) technique and thirty-four putative loci were totally detected. Cluster and factor analyses indicated that there are two major distinct groups or clusters, and thus, seeds collected from a few different localities are enough to capture the genetic variation held by this species. Also isozyme analysis is a reliable, efficient and effective marker technology for determining genetic variations in C. auriculata.
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The present status of natural dyes with reference to the stake holders of natural dyes, estimates of dye requirements, availability of natural dyes, technology for production, and some important natural dyes and mordants is critically discussed. Application techniques and fastness properties of natural dyes are also briefly discussed. It is suggested that the natural dyes are not substitutes of synthetic dyes. Some of the limitations of natural dyes such as use of banned metal salts as mordants, poor fastness properties and use of agricultural land for growing natural dye plants can be overcome through research and development.
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Leaves of Punica granatum contain the new gallotannins, 1,2,4-tri-O-galloyl-beta-glucopyranose and 1,3,4-tri-O-galloyl-beta-glucopyranose together with the hitherto unknown ellagitannins, 1,4-di-O-galloyl-3,6-(R)-hexahydroxydiphenyl-beta-glucopyranose and brevifolin carboxylic acid 10-monopotassium sulphate. Structures were established by conventional methods of analysis and confirmed by H-1, C-13 NMR, 2D-chemical shift correlation NMR and ESI-MS (negative mode) spectrometric analysis. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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Arunachal Pradesh, recognized as one of the hotspots of biodiversity is home to a range of economically important plants. Some of these plant species have found use in the preparation of natural dyes. Natural dyes are colourants having several applications in textiles, inks, cosmetics, etc. Nature has gifted us more than 500 dye-yielding plant species. Daphne papyracea, is one such plant being traditionally used by the Monpa tribe of West Kameng and Tawang districts for preparing dye as well as for making hand-made paper for painting and writing scripts in monasteries. The Apatanis, Khamptis, Tangsas, Wanchos and Monpas have been using species like Rubia cordifolia, Rubia sikkimensis, Woodfordia fruticosa, Colquhounia coccinea, etc. traditionally in combination with other plants for extraction and preparation of dyes utilizing indigenous processes. During the course of investigation we were informed that some of these aforementioned species possess ethno-medicinal and fibre-yielding properties in addition to natural dyeing and are being used in traditional health care practices, rope-making, fish poisoning, etc. The vast treasure of indigenous methods developed by ethnic tribes for utilization of various plants for their day-to-day needs requires proper documentation. The present study is an attempt in this direction, to explore the availability of natural dye-yielding plants in Arunachal Pradesh as well as to document the indigenous knowledge, and procedures related to preparation of natural dyes by the tribal societies in the state.
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Beside the known naphthoquinones, dehydro-α-lapachone (17) and lapachol (20), four new naphtho[2,3-b]-furan-4,9-diones, i.e. the 2-acetyl-5-hydroxy. 2-acetyl-8-hydroxy. (−)-5-hydroxy-2-(1′-hydroxyethyl), and (±)-8-hydroxy-2-(1′-hydroxyethyl) derivatives 16, 15, 12, and 13, respectively, and the new compound benzo[b]furan-6-carboxaldehyde (8) have been isolated from a CHCl3 extract of the inner stem bark of Tabebuia avellanedae LORENTZex GRISEB., together with four known naphthofurandiones, a dihydroisocoumarin derivative, (−)–6-hydroxymellein, and five benzoic-acid and three benzaldehyde derivatives which have not been reported previously from this plant. Structure determination of the isomeric 5- and 8-hydroxynaphtho[2,3−b]furan-4,9-diones was carried out unambiguously by a combination of selective-INEPT experiments and X-ray crystallographic analysis.
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β-Lapachone is a naturally occurring compound that can be isolated from a number of tropical trees. It is shown to be a potent inhibitor of reverse transcriptase activity from both avian myeloblastosis virus and Rauscher murine leukaemia virus. In addition, it affects eukaryotic DNA-dependent DNA polymerase- activity; 50% inhibition is reached in 60-min incubation time by about 8 μM β-lapachone. Enzyme activity is inhibited irrespective of the purity of the enzyme used or of the amount or type of template/primer or substrate present. The inhibitory effect of the drug is only observed in the presence of dithiothreitol. The primary site of action of β-lapachone appears to be the enzyme protein, as is also borne out by the specificity of its action. Eukaryotic DNA-dependent DNA polymerase-β, prokaryotic DNA-dependent DNA polymerase I, several other nucleic acid polymerases and some completely unrelated enzymes are not affected. Reverse transcriptase and DNA-dependent DNA polymerase- may be in someway related in possessing similarly exposed ‘– SH structures’ in their active sites. β-Lapachone thus affords a novel means of studying such interrelationships and of further characterizing enzymes.
Article
Lycopene is a naturally present carotenoid in tomatoes. Among the carotenoids, lycopene is a major component found in the serum. High levels of lycopene have also been found in the testes, adrenal glands, prostate. Several recent studies including cell culture, animal and epidemiological investigations have indicated the effect of dietary lycopene in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and coronary heart disease. Although, the antioxidant properties of lycopene are thought to be primarily responsible for its beneficial properties, evidence is accumulating to suggest other mechanisms such as intercellular gap junction communication, hormonal and immune system modulation and metabolic pathways may also be involved. This review summarizes the background information about lycopene and presents the most current knowledge with respect to its role in human health.