Chapter · January 016 doi: 10. 1515/9783110412789-008 citation reads 46 authors

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6 Microbial Pigments

6.1 Introduction

The food and beverage industrial communities search for all natural colorants and, espe-

cially for uncommon colors such as blue, in natural plant, animal, macroscopic fungi and 

microbial sources (Newsome et al., 2014). This is due to recent increasing concern regarding 

the consumption of natural ingredients. As well, the need to search for novel antibiotics to 

face the advent of strains presenting antimicrobial resistance as well as new emerging patho-

gens have lead to found promising compounds showing bioactivities in pigments (Tuli et al., 

2014). Additionally, several artificial colorants result in hyperallergenicity or carcinogenicity 

and thus have being disqualified, which have leads to increase research on natural com-

pounds (Reviewed by Tuli et al., 2014). 

With regard to plant pigments, a long reported history is available (Tab. 6.1). For example, 

Tanaka et al. (2008) reviewed the major types of pigments synthetized by plants, except for 

chlorophylls. Some pigments such as Curcumin, a notorious vegetal yellow pigment used for 

longtime as medicinal, and also in food (Mayell, 2001), have been recently tested as larvicidal 

against Culex quinquefasciatus vector of filariasis (Madhu et al., 2010) and more recently to 

kill Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae (Anstrom et al., 2012).

Among the natural sources, pigment producing microorganisms have potential to meet 

actual new defies. Natural colors develop the market tendencies of the product including 

associated features such as antioxidant, anticancer properties, to name just a few (Reviewed 

by Tuli et al., 2014). Several microorganisms are promising for natural colors prospection due 

its increased management flexibility for cultivation (Tuli et al., 2014). 

Most significant natural pigments produced by bacteria, algae and fungi were com-

piled by Danshan and Manonmani (2015). Nowadays, researchers continue to bio-explore 

for novel compounds from microbes and fungi obtaining several drugs which valuated the 

fungal bio-prospecting market. Moreover they have stressed the urgent need to search for 

sites and substrates with high fungal richness towards protection of fungal resources for 

unique compound detection (Tang et al., 2007). In this review, a general summary and most 

notorious reports on this topic are mentioned. Moreover, various sources of microbial pig-

ments and the needs to explore their biological and medicinal properties like antimicrobial, 

antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory are presented. The study also emphasizes 

upon key parameters to improve the bioactivity and production of microbial pigments for 

their commercial use. 

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