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Updated by kiara-ramchunder on Jun 06, 2020
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Pigment Canthaxanthin from the bacteria Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Microorganisms have a wide variety of characteristics that have always come to our aid. Some of them even have the ability to produce colorful, non-toxic pigments. The color orange is a very bold, warm and vibrant color. The Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1 is a bacterium that is recognized as a promising producer of natural Canthaxanthin, which is a ubiquitous keto-carotene, which is a bright orange pigment which is used in food, cosmetics and also the pharmaceutical industry.


Pigment canthaxanthin produced by Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Pigment canthaxanthin produced by Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Orange colonies that isolated on an agar plate during a routine screening of Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Enhancement of canthaxanthin production from Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1 is an aerobic gram positive, catalase positive, and oxidase negative bacterium. Under fed-batch process conditions, the optimum concentration of the trace elements (i. e., Fe3+, Cu2+ and Zn2+) selected from Plackett-Burman design to achieve the highest level of canthaxanthin in Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1 was determined by application of a response surface methodology (RSM). By means RSM the optimum conditions to achieve the highest level of canthaxanthin (8923±18 µg/L) were determined as follows: Fe3+ 30 ppm, Cu2+ 28.75 ppm and Zn2+ 27 ppm.

Canthaxanthin biosynthesis by Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1

Although the Dietzia natronolimnaea HS-1 is the most promising bacteria for the production of canthaxanthin, it is also produced by Corynebacterium michiganense, Micrococcus roseus, Brevibacterium sp. KY-4313, Bradyrhizobium strain ORS278, Gordonia jacobaea, green micro-algae (Chlorococcum sp. strain MA-1, Chlorella zofingiensis and Chlorella emersonii) and an extremely halophilic archaeon (Haloferax alexandrinus). Carotenoids possess significant biological activities physiological functions in the prevention of cancer and heart diseases by quenching free radicals or singlet oxygen, enhancing in vitro antibody production, as well as providing visual systems with precursors of vitamin A.


Canthaxanthin has multiples uses in the pharmaceutical industry. β‐carotene and canthaxanthin in a dose of 75–250 mg a day by mouth reduced the symptoms of exposure to the sun in all 7 treated patients with erythrohepatic protoporphyria (EPP). In 15 of 18 with polymorphous light eruptions (PMLE) and in 3 of 4 with lupus erythematodes discoides. Canthaxanthin also posseses antitumor activity. It is also a component in topical sunscreen.

Canthaxanthin in cosmetics- a skin tanning agent for vitiligo

Canthaxanthin is used as a food‐coloring agent, a photoprotective agent in certain photodermatoses, a tan‐ simulating agent, and a pigment to darken vitiliginous skin. Evaluation of oral canthaxanthin as an artificial pigment for the management of vitiligo revealed it was a “very satisfactory” agent. It is concluded that Canthaxanthin can be taken orally, is easy to use, and can be a cosmetically acceptable therapy in selected cases of vitiligo.

Canthaxanthin in poultry and aquaculture feed

The flesh of wild caught salmon and rainbow trout have a pink/orange color due to the presence of the carotenoids astaxanthin and canthaxanthin that are deposited in the muscle. In the wild, these pigments are obtained through the food chain but in aquaculture, these carotenoids are introduced as animal feed additives. Canthaxanthin is the dominant pigment source in dry pelleted diets for salmon and trout. The plumage color is caused by carotenoids (canthaxanthin, astaxanthin, and phoenicoxanthin) found in algae, crustaceans, and mollusks. After 4 to 6 years, greater flamingos display their adult plumage and turn from gray-brown to pink, which is a sign of maturity. 20 Preen oils containing carotenoids are excreted by the uropygial gland and are applied as additional cosmetic coloration of the feathers. In addition to aquaculture, canthaxanthin is also used in poultry feeds. It determines the skin color of poultry, as well as the egg yolk color and yolk color homogeneity, which is an important criterion for consumer’s choice of eggs.