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

  • Panida Unagul
  • Patcharaporn WongsaEmail author
  • Prasat Kittakoop
  • Sutichai Intamas
  • Prasert Srikitikulchai
  • Morakot Tanticharoen
Original Paper


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


Naphthoquinones Cordyceps unilateralis Insect pathogenic fungi Red pigment production Optimisation 



Financial support from the Biodiversity Research and Training Program (BRT) to P.U., and the Bioresources Utilisation Program (BUP) to P.W., are gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Dr. Vasimon Reunglek for her helpful discussion, and Mr. Sunya Surerum for his excellent assistance.


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panida Unagul
    • 1
  • Patcharaporn Wongsa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Prasat Kittakoop
    • 1
  • Sutichai Intamas
    • 1
  • Prasert Srikitikulchai
    • 1
  • Morakot Tanticharoen
    • 1
  1. 1.National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA)Thailand Science ParkKlong Luang PathumthaniThailand

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