Journal of Food Science and Technology

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 2415–2421 | Cite as

Single step aqueous two-phase extraction for downstream processing of C-phycocyanin from Spirulina platensis

  • S. Chethana
  • Chetan A. Nayak
  • M. C. Madhusudhan
  • K. S. M. S. Raghavarao
Original Article


C-phycocyanin, a natural food colorant, is gaining importance worldwide due to its several medical and pharmaceutical applications. In the present study, aqueous two-phase extraction was shown to be an attractive alternative for the downstream processing of C-phycocyanin from Spirulina platensis. By employing differential partitioning, C-phycocyanin selectively partitioned to the polymer rich (top) phase in concentrated form and contaminant proteins to the salt rich (bottom) phase. This resulted in an increase in the product purity (without losing much of the yield) in a single step without the need of multiple processing steps. Effect of process parameters such as molecular weight, tie line length, phase volume ratio, concentration of phase components on the partitioning behavior of C-phycocyanin was studied. The results were explained based on relative free volume of the phase systems. C-phycocyanin with a purity of 4.32 and yield of about 79 % was obtained at the standardized conditions.


Aqueous two-phase systems C-phycocyanin Relative free volume Partition coefficient Purification 



Tie line length (%)

% YT

Yield (%) in top phase


Aqueous two-phase extraction


Aqueous two-phase systems




Partition coefficient of C-phycocyanin


Partition coefficient of total proteins


Poly (ethylene) glycol


Relative free volume (ml/g)


Phase volume ratio


Difference in relative free volume (ml/g)


Density of the top/bottom phase (g/ml)



We thank the Director, CFTRI, Mysore for his keen interest in separation processes. We also, thank Head, Plant Cell Biotechnology, CFTRI, Mysore for providing the Spirulina biomass. The authors, CS, CAN and MCM thank Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for the Senior Research Fellowship. The authors acknowledge the support of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) Government of India (BT/PR-5286/PID), for providing financial support to this research work.


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Copyright information

© Association of Food Scientists & Technologists (India) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Chethana
    • 2
  • Chetan A. Nayak
    • 3
  • M. C. Madhusudhan
    • 1
  • K. S. M. S. Raghavarao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food EngineeringCSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI)MysoreIndia
  2. 2.Molecular Biology and Genetics UnitJawaharlal Nehru centre for Advanced Scientific ResearchBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Dayanada Sagar College of EngineeringBangaloreIndia

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