Date: 15 Mar 2005

Production of red pigments by the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps unilateralis BCC 1869

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Abstract

Production of red pigments (naphthoquinones) by the insect pathogenic fungus Cordyceps unilateralis BCC 1869 was investigated in this study. Cultivation conditions, including temperature, intitial pH of medium, and aeration, were optimised to improve the yield of total naphthoquinones in shake-flask culture of C. unilateralis. The highest yield of total naphthoquinones (3 g L−1) was obtained from a 28-day culture grown in potato dextrose broth with an initial pH of 7.0, at 28°C with shaking-induced aeration at 200 rpm. An extraction process for isolation of the targeted naphthoquinone, 3,5,8-trihydroxy-6-methoxy-2-(5-oxohexa-1,3-dienyl)-1,4-naphthoquinone (3,5,8-TMON), from a culture of C. unilateralis, was also developed. The yield of 3,5,8-TMON obtained was about 1.2 g L−1 or 40% of total naphthoquinones. The stability of 3,5,8-TMON was very high, even upon exposure to strong sunlight (70,000 lx), high temperature up to 200°C, and acid and alkali solutions at concentrations of 0.1 M