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Article Released Wed-26th-April-2006 15:40 GMT
Contact: Mohamad Abdullah Institution: Universiti Sains Malaysia
 A Natural Colorant for the Aquaculture Industry

The process of Astaxanthin extraction is not only expensive but environementally unfriendly as well. This new research offers an environmentally friendly and cheap alternative

Assoc. Prof. Darah Ibrahim (Contact details available to registered journalists)
Prof. Ibrahim Che Omar
Balvinder Kaur
Universiti Sains Malaysia

Asta-xdm20, a Natural Colorant for Aquaculture Industries

Caratenoid astaxanthin, a natural red pigment, is a highly-valued commercial product. At one point, pure astaxanthin was reported to fetch a record price of RM15,000.00 per kg. It has a wide market and is used in many different industries like aquaculture, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Astaxanthin is also an antioxidant agent and is widely used as a supplement in numerous health diets.

In Malaysia, the largest market for its use is the aquaculture industry where it is used as a supplement in fish feeds to enhance the coloration of fish flesh and skins. The usual supply of astaxanthin is imported at a cost ofRM80-100 million per year. Astaxanthin is extracted from the shells of prawns and crabs. However, not only is the chemical process expensive, but the extraction process has detrimental effects on the environment due to the hazardous chemicals used.

Therefore, a biological approach for the production of astaxanthin was explored. This resulted in ASTA-XMD20, a potential red pigment from mutant yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous m20 via a submerged fermentation process.

Not only is ASTA-XMD20 a source of astaxanthin but the biomass can also be used as a protein source in fish diets. The production of ASTA-XMD20 is cheap and very suitable for the aquaculture industry

1. Safe and toxic-free product from a biological source.
2. Low operational cost via a fermentation process.
3. Fermentation system can easily be translated into large-scale production in different modes.
4. Easy biological production system that is environmentally friendly.
5. Astaxanthin can be diversified for applications in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
6. The product can easily be formulated into fish feed.
7. Effective product for colours and patterns on the flesh and skin of fish.
8. The product is a good natural source of protein (single-cell Protein).

Figure 1: Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous mutant (left) was used in the fermentation process
Figure 2: The fermentation was carried out in a 10 L stirred-tank fermenter under controlled condition
Figure 3: Biomass powder of astaxanthin after freeze-drying
Figure 4: Formulated feed for fishes.
Figure 5: Koi or Japanese carp after being fed for two months with feed formulated with astaxanthin
Figure 6: The fish before (left) and after (right) feeding with feed formulated with astaxanthin

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