Why it’s importantColorants from plants and minerals have been used throughout history with records stretching back to around 1500 B.C. that describe their use in art, foods, and cosmetics by ancient Egyptians and Romans.1 In 1856, the first synthetic pigment was developed by English chemist Sir William Henry Perkin.2 This discovery led to the development of a wide range of synthetic pigments that have been used extensively across the paint, textile, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries.2 While these artificial pigments are well established in many industries due their low cost, color variety, and ease of production, the increase in customer demand for products made with natural pigments has renewed research into alternative sources.3,4
What’s the solution?In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to fungi as a source of naturally produced pigments.3,4 Fungi are known to synthetize pigments from several chemical classes (melanins, carotenoids, indigo, quinones, monascin, etc.) as secondary metabolites.3,4 Further, these microorganisms can thrive in a broad range of environments and have been reported to show potential in meeting industry standards for pigment production like high yield, cost efficiency, pigment stability, supply sustainability, and ease of downstream processing.3-5
How we can help
As a leading developer and supplier of authenticated biological materials, ATCC provides the scientific community with access to an expansive collection of credible materials needed to support research in fungal pigment production (see Figure 1). Our diverse collection of fungi includes over 180 strains that have the potential to produce natural pigments. These strains can be used for research. We also offer opportunities for commercial-use licensing.
Figure 1. Representative ATCC strains with potential pigment production capabilities.
Did you know?
ATCC has over 180 strains that have the potential to produce natural pigments.
Shahin Ali, PhD
Senior Scientist, Collections, ATCC
Dr. Ali is a Senior Scientist at ATCC with over 13 years of experience in the field of fungal biology and plant-pathogen interactions. Before joining ATCC, Dr. Ali worked for the USDA-ARS at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Maryland. He obtained his PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland.
Anthony Muhle, MS
Senior Biologist, Content & Accessioning, ATCC
Anthony is a microbiologist with several years of experience working in fungal, bacterial, and viral plant pathogen research and molecular diagnostics. Before joining ATCC, he worked as a Biological Science Technician for the USDA-Agricultural Research Services performing molecular identification of novel viral plant pathogens utilizing next-generation sequencing. At ATCC, Anthony performs various experiments that help promote ATCC’s mycology collection as well as analyze sales and product data to generate dashboard reports that provide insight into ATCC’s mycology production.
Cara Wilder, PhD, ELS
Senior Scientific Writer, ATCC
Dr. Wilder is a Senior Scientific Writer at ATCC. She has a PhD in Microbiology with background experience working with several pathogenic bacterial species in both in vitro and in vivo environments. Dr. Wilder is the author of numerous publications on varying topics of scientific relevance, including quality control, microbial contamination, assay development, proficiency testing, and multidrug resistance.
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- Adam Burrows, JD. Palette of our palates: a brief history of food coloring and its regulation. Comprehensive Reviews in food science and food safety, 8(4): 394-408, 2009.
- Garfield S. Mauve: how one man invented a color that changed the world. WW Norton & Company, Inc; 2000.
- Lagashetti AC. Fungal pigments and their prospects in different industries. Microorganisms 7(12): 604, 2019. PubMed: 31766735
- Kalra R, Conlan XA, Goel M. Fungi as a Potential Source of Pigments: Harnessing Filamentous Fungi 8: 369, 2020. PubMed: 32457874
- Dufosse L, et al. Filamentous fungi are large-scale producers of pigments and colorants for the food industry. Curr Opin Biotechnol 26: 56-61, 2014. PubMed: 24679259