Case ID: M23-196L^

Published: 2024-01-02 20:57:17

Last Updated: 1704229037


Willem Vermaas
Sunil Tiwari

Technology categories

EnvironmentalLife Science (All LS Techs)Nutraceuticals/ExtractsPhotosynthetic Organisms & Culture Systems

Licensing Contacts

Jovan Heusser
Director of Licensing and Business Development
[email protected]

Extraction and Thermal Protection of Phycocyanin

Phycocyanin is a bright-blue pigment-protein complex, found in phycobilisomes, and makes up a large fraction (up to 20-25%) of the dry weight of cyanobacterial cells. The global demand for phycocyanin is increasing due to a growing public preference for natural compositions in food coloring, cosmetics and other industry applications. However, given how difficult it is to extract phycocyanin and how easily it denatures at higher temperatures, it has not been considered a cost-effective option for these applications.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a simple and scalable method to isolate phycocyanin in high purity from cyanobacteria. This extraction method yields analytical grade phycocyanin at >90% yield, and works on the four different cyanobacterial strains it was tested on. Furthermore, they have developed a method to overcome thermal lability of phycocyanin, to increase the potential utilization in the food, cosmetics and pigment industries. The phycocyanin created with these methods is highly thermostable and is able to be boiled for several minutes without appreciable loss of color.
Together, these developments allow for serious consideration of phycocyanin as a natural replacement of synthetic blue dyes in the food industry and in other applications.
Potential Applications
  • Food coloring
  • Cosmetics
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Pigments
  • Medicine – has antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Biological Research
Benefits and Advantages
  • Facile isolation of relatively pure phycocyanin, far exceeding the requirements for food-grade phycocyanin
    • Enables a reduction in cost and time of phycocyanin production from a wide range of cyanobacteria
  • With only one additional step of purification, analytical-grade phycocyanin can be obtained
  • Purification can be completed within a day, at room temperature, with no specialized techniques, thus greatly reducing costs
  • The phycocyanin is protected from thermal degradation and can be boiled without loss of color
For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see