Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

+39 011 090 6100 info@tech-share.it

Extraction of highly purified phycobiliproteins

ammonium sulphatephycobiliproteinPorphyridium cruentumProtein extractionspirulina


Method to obtain highly concentrated phycobiliprotein extracts reaching high pigment yield and purity P ≥ 2. Cell rupture and purification of the product are incorporated in a single step, upstream of the pigment extraction process. The phycobiliproteins are extracted/recovered subsequently, obtaining a highly concentrated extract and relatively high purity, without downstream purification steps. Production times are reduced, without impacting on the quality of the final product.

Technical features

High yield method for extracting phycobiliproteins from cyanobacterial and/or algal biomass, obtaining aqueous extracts characterized by high concentration of pigments and a purity at least equal to food/cosmetic grade (P≥2). The process consists of a first step, where the cyanobacterial/algal cells are broken by ultrasonication in an ammonium sulphate solution, with simultaneous extraction of water-soluble compounds other than phycobiliproteins, and a second step in which phycobiliproteins are extracted using water or aqueous solutions, which allows to obtain a very concentrated extract of relatively high purity. The method, which incorporates cell rupture and purification of the product in a single step, applies an inverse logic to the traditional one, as first it aims to eliminate the contaminating molecules (thus contributing to purification) and only after it aims to extract successfully the the phycobiliproteins from the biomass.

This method reduces production costs and is an excellent candidate for industrial-scale use. The method allowed to extract up to 95-98% of phycobiliproteins from Spirulina biomass. Depending on the extraction solution, crude extract of PC+APC about 4 mg/mL (yield about 21% (mg/mg biomass dry weight)) and purity equal to 3,70 was obtained, as well as crude extract of PC+APC about 3 mg/mL (yield about 15% (mg/mg biomass dry weight)) and purity equal to 4,0. From P. cruentum biomass B-PE with yield up to 9% (mg/mg biomass dry weight, concentration about 0,9 mg/mL) and purity up to 4,2 was obtained.

Possible Applications

  • Food (natural food colorant, nutraceutical);
  • Cosmetics (natural dye, anti-aging of the skin);
  • Medical-Pharmaceutical (anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, neuroprotective);
  • Diagnostics (fluorescent probes: cytofluorometry, immunofluorescence, ELISA test.).


  • Cell rupture and purification in a single step, upstream pigment extraction process;
  • No downstream purification processes;
  • Phycobiliprotein extract with purity P≥2 ;
  • Highly quality and concentrated pigment extract;
  • Reduced production costs and times.