|P. Guarnaccia, M. Pinio, G. Testa , F. Branca
|Brassicaceae, pigment extraction, indigo quality, natural dye, agronomical management
The genus Isatis (Brassicaceae) encompasses about 30 species, most of them producing in their leaves the blue pigment indigo (indigotin), one of the oldest natural dyes known to man.
Among them, Isatis tinctoria L., a biennial and mainly outbreeding species, is the earliest source of indigo cultivated since the Middle Ages in Europe.
Since I. tinctoria has not yet been subjected to any formal breeding program, great diversity of bio-morphological and physiochemical traits is expressed.
As a result of the historical disappearance of indigo-producing crops, today there is a considerable lack of knowledge regarding agronomical management and pigment extraction.
First results show a wide genetic variability of I. tinctoria with good adaptation to the Mediterranean climate conditions.
In this frame the “Impronte” research project (www.impronte.org) funded by the Sicilian Region (PSR 2007-13, Mis. 124) aims to provide new perspectives to the Sicilian farmers to produce a high quality indigo to satisfy present and future demands of natural dye industry.
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