R-phycoerythrin extraction and purification from fresh Gracilaria sp. using thermo-responsive systems


R-phycoerythrin is a high added-value protein found in red macroalgae with several interesting properties. Despite the promising results found when R-phycoerythrin is used as an optically active center in luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), it still has some problems that can be attributed to the low stability of the R-phycoerythrin in the presence of the specific contaminant proteins found in the crude extract. The development of downstream strategies able to reduce the use of environmentally hazardous solvents, while improving the purification without compromising the R-phycoerythrin structural integrity is still the biggest challenge to overcome. Aqueous micellar two-phase systems (AMTPS) appear as an appealing fractionation approach since they allow the processing of systems with larger water contents, while displaying great selectivity and biocompatibility with several biomolecules. Moroever, AMTPS that mix surfactants and surface-active ionic liquids are shown to significantly enhance protein purification. In this work, mixed AMTPS were applied to the R-phycoerythrin purification from red macroalgae. After the process optimization, this work proposes the application of two consecutive steps of purification as the final process to isolate R-phycoerythrin from the remaining proteins composing the crude extract, while maintaining the structural integrity of R-phycoerythrin, as requested to be used in the LSC. Besides a good performance, the two-step approach developed was also shown to have a lower environmental impact with a carbon footprint decrease of 16%, when compared with the conventional AMTPS.



subject category

Chemistry; Science & Technology - Other Topics


Vicente, FA; Cardoso, IS; Martins, M; Goncalves, CVM; Dias, ACRV; Domingues, P; Coutinho, JAP; Ventura, SPM

our authors


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, FCT Ref. UID/CTM/50011/2019, financed by national funds through FCT/MCTES, CESAM (UID/AMB/50017 -POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007638), and QOPNA research unit (FCT UID/QUI/00062/2013) financed by national funds through FCT/MEC and when appropriate co-financed by the FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement. It was also supported by the Integrated Programme of SR&TD SusPhotoSolutions -Solucoes Fotovoltaicas Sustentaveis (reference CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-000005), co-funded by the Centro 2020 program, Portugal 2020, European Union, through the European Regional Development Fund. The authors are grateful for the national fund through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for the doctoral grants SFRH/BD/101683/2014 of F.A. Vicente and SFRH/BD/122220/2016 of M. Martins. S. P. M. Ventura and A. C. R. V. Dias acknowledge FCT for the contracts IF/00402/2015 and IF/00587/2013, respectively. Thanks are also due to the Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal), for funding RNEM (REDE/1504/REM/2005) the Portuguese Mass Spectrometry Network. The authors thank ALGAplus company for the macroalgae samples.

Share this project:

Related Publications

We use cookies for marketing activities and to offer you a better experience. By clicking “Accept Cookies” you agree with our cookie policy. Read about how we use cookies by clicking "Privacy and Cookie Policy".