Isolation and characterization of melanin pigment from yesso scallop Patinopecten yessoensis

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Melanin is one of the essential compounds in the pigments of molluscan shells. However, the effects of melanin on color variations in molluscs are largely unknown. Our previous study suggests that Yesso scallop Patinopecten yessoensis might contain melanin pigment in the dark brown shell. We therefore isolated melanin from the pigmented shells using hydrochloric acid method, and characterized the types of melanin pigments by spectrophotometry. The purified melanin, which was verified by spectrophotometry scanning and HPLC analysis, showed the typical characteristics of melanin absorption spectra and HPLC chromatograms. The contents of pheomelanin and eumelanin in pigmented shells, which were determined by the linear standard curve of melanin at 405 nm and 350 nm absorbance, were 48.23 ± 1.350 and 157.65 ± 5.905 mg, respectively. The present results indicate that the brown-pigmented shells of scallops comprise approximately 76.6% of eumelanin and 23.4% of pheomelanin, which supports the presence of eumelanin-rich pigment in scallop shells. Therefore, the combination of hydrochloric acid extraction and spectrophotometric quantification is a rapid and efficient method to isolate and quantify melanin in shells. This will facilitate the melanin studies related to shell color polymorphism and the selective breeding of bivalves with different shell colors.

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This work was supported by the grants from the Basic Scientific Research Fund of YSFRI (No. 2060302201516054), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31602153), and the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province (No. ZR2016CQ32).

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Correspondence to Aiguo Yang.

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Sun, X., Wu, B., Zhou, L. et al. Isolation and characterization of melanin pigment from yesso scallop Patinopecten yessoensis . J. Ocean Univ. China 16, 279–284 (2017).

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Key words

  • eumelanin
  • pheomelanin
  • hydrochloric acid method
  • spectrophotometry