Bacteria Make Natural Pigment From Simple Sugar

Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 18:02 in Biology & Nature

Nature makes the vibrant pigments manufacturers want for foods and cosmetics, but getting them from plants to the products we buy is so difficult that many manufacturers rely on artificial colors. Now, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have shown that four strains of E. coli bacteria working together can convert sugar into the natural red anthocyanin pigment found in strawberries, opening the door to economical natural colors for industrial applications. The research marks the first biosynthesis method using four strains of bacteria to manufacture a compound in a single step, said Mattheos Koffas, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer, and member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. Results appear in mBio, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. “For the first time, we are able to completely synthesize anthocyanins in a biological system,” said Koffas. “We feed the bacteria glucose and they do the rest. This...

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