Fibre Highways: translocation of the microbiome on textiles for multiple applications

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Research into the way microbes move within our living spaces and interact with materials and textiles within our homes is essential, and gaining traction as we begin to cohabit more readily with ‘living materials’.

Fibre Highways is a proof-of-concept study where we explored microbial interactions with textiles by expanding upon previous research into bacterial motility on fungal highways. The study brought together cross-disciplinary expertise in environmental microbiology with materials and textile science to demonstrate textile fibres providing scaffolds and highways for microbial translocation.

From a design perspective the studio was extended into the lab to develop multi-kingdom ecosystems that integrated textiles with microbial communities; using knitting as a tool for conceptual thinking, a microbial transport system and an active agent in the application of bioremediation. The intention of the project was to demonstrate how a symbiotic relationship could develop between knitted fabrics and microorganisms, and to deploy these responsive living textiles to address significant environmental challenges. 

Scale is a preoccupation of every knit designer because fabric properties evolve between the levels of the fibre, the yarn and the knit structure. This offers multiple opportunities for functionalisation. At a micro scale, fibre morphology informed the design of fabric for microbial habitation. At a macro scale fabric structure was engineered for variable liquid absorption rates and environmentally responsive shape change. Interactions on fibres across decreasing microbial scales (fungi, bacteria, bacterial spores) was also considered.

Fibre Highways moves towards transforming our understanding of responsive bio-textile hybrids, generating the fundamental science and design perspective necessary to develop biotechnologies required for real world applications.
Period12 Oct 202214 Oct 2022
Event titleArcInTex Symposium: Living Textile Architectures
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational