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

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Method for production of high added value apocarotenoids

apocarotenoidBioactive compoundsbioproductioncrocinspigmentSaffron


The invention describes B.orellana and C.sativus DNA sequences and biotechnological methods for the production of crocins, an important class of saffron typical molecules with a considerable cosmetic, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical interest in GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) systems such as tomato and yeast.

Technical features

Crocins mainly accumulate within saffron and are responsible for the red colouring of the ripe stigmas from which the known spice derives. It is a class of bioactive molecules, capable of improving some functions of our organism. Together with their precursor crocetin, they have very important cosmetic and medical applications: they are endowed with antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and have a proven protective function against macular degeneration (DM), a seriously disabling degenerative disease of the retina. To date, the biotechnological production methods of crocins are applied to non-edible systems such as bacteria or tobacco leaves. The invention describes DNA sequences and biotechnological methods that make it possible to produce crocins starting from widely diffused carotenoids, such as beta-carotene from carrot and lycopene from tomato, and at reduced costs.

Possible Applications

  • Production of nutraceuticals for the prevention of macular degeneration;
  • Production of nutraceuticals and cosmetics with antioxidant properties;
  • Production of natural dyes for the food and beverage industry.


  • Safe production of crocins in edible organisms such as tomato and yeast;
  • Production costs reduced;
  • Controlled and standardized production of crocins for supplements;
  • Possibility of producing crocins in other vegetable species such as carrot and spinach.