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

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Rapid purification of phycobiliproteins

hydrophilic PVDF membraneIPA21membrane chromatographyphycobiliptotein purificationphycocyaninspirulina


Process to purify ficobiliproteins, photosynthetic accessory pigments produced by cyanobacteria and some algae. The process is applied to both dried and fresh biomass extracts and allows to purify the ficobiliproteins contained in them at the desired purity (P), up to the analytical degree (P≥4). The process is simple, rapid, economical and, consequently, suitable for large scale production.

Technical features

The invented method allows to purify phycobiliproteins, extracted from cyanobacteria and algae with aqueous solvents, applying Membrane Chromatography (MC).
The MC process is performed using hydrophilic PVDF membranes, and inducing selective and reversible protein-membrane interactions by an anti-chaotropic salt, such as ammonium sulphate. Changing ammonium sulphate concentration it is possible to selectively separate the various phycobiliproteins present in the biomass extract and, applying the appropriate number of MC steps, to achieve the desired purity, up to the analytical grade (P≥4).
Analytical grade phycocyanin (extracted from Arthrospira platensis, i.e. spirulina) and B-phycoerythrin (extracted from Porphyridium cruentum) have been obtained applying this method.

Possible Applications

  • Food (natural, safe colorant, nutraceutical, etc.);
  • Cosmetics (natural dye, anti-aging of the skin etc.);
  • Medical-Pharmaceutical (anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, neuroprotective etc);
  • Diagnostic Kits (fluorescent probes: cytofluorimetry, immunofluorescence, ELISA test etc.).


  • Simple and rapid process;
  • Modular process;
  • Tuneable process;
  • Low-cost process;
  • Process suitable for industrial scale production (it represents a valid alternative to the methods exploited up to now, more expensive and time-consuming)