Project Title

Fungal Melanin Extraction and Purification

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Molecular and Cellular Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Christopher Cornelison

Additional Faculty

Kyle Gabriel, Molecular and Cellular Biology, kgabrie5@kennesaw.edu

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Melanins are pigmented compounds that exhibit a variety of chemical properties including antioxidant potential and UV protection. Alternative sources for melanin are being explored because current methods produce the pigments through extractions from squid ink which pose environmental and sustainability risks. Additionally, current prices for melanin reach nearly 500$ per gram. Previous research has revealed that certain fungi can produce melanin pigments and excrete them extracellularly when grown in media supplemented with L-DOPA and L-tyrosine. In this current research, 7 species of fungi were grown in broths induced with L-DOPA and L-tyrosine, and melanin pigments were isolated from the broths. The fungal melanin was extracted through acid precipitation and purified by repeated washings with organic solvents and water. A strain of Pleurotus ostreatus was identified as the best producer of melanin while being an average producer of biomass compared to the other fungi tested. Across 9 extractions, the P. ostreatus strain produced an average of 0.14 grams of melanin. Further investigation is needed to identify the best medium for the P. ostreatus strain and to explore the incorporation of agricultural waste products as substrate. Additionally, research is necessary for upscaling the fermentation process for increased production.

Disciplines

Cell Biology

Project Type

Poster

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Fungal Melanin Extraction and Purification

Melanins are pigmented compounds that exhibit a variety of chemical properties including antioxidant potential and UV protection. Alternative sources for melanin are being explored because current methods produce the pigments through extractions from squid ink which pose environmental and sustainability risks. Additionally, current prices for melanin reach nearly 500$ per gram. Previous research has revealed that certain fungi can produce melanin pigments and excrete them extracellularly when grown in media supplemented with L-DOPA and L-tyrosine. In this current research, 7 species of fungi were grown in broths induced with L-DOPA and L-tyrosine, and melanin pigments were isolated from the broths. The fungal melanin was extracted through acid precipitation and purified by repeated washings with organic solvents and water. A strain of Pleurotus ostreatus was identified as the best producer of melanin while being an average producer of biomass compared to the other fungi tested. Across 9 extractions, the P. ostreatus strain produced an average of 0.14 grams of melanin. Further investigation is needed to identify the best medium for the P. ostreatus strain and to explore the incorporation of agricultural waste products as substrate. Additionally, research is necessary for upscaling the fermentation process for increased production.

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