Sustainable Strategy Based on Induced Precipitation for the Purification of Phycobiliproteins


Phycobiliproteins are fluorescent proteins mainly produced by red macroalgae and cyanobacteria. These proteins, essential to the survival of these organisms, find application in many fields of interest, from medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic to food and textile industries. The biggest obstacle to their use is the lack of simple environmental and economical sustainable methodologies to 1 obtain these proteins with high purity. In this work, a new purification process is proposed based on the induced precipitation of the target proteins followed by ultrafiltration. Purities of 89.5% of both phycobiliproteins and 87.3% of R-phycoerythrin were achieved using ammonium sulfate and poly(acrylic acid) sodium salts as precipitation agents (followed by an ultrafiltration step), while maintaining high recovery yields and protein structure stability. Environmental analysis performed to evaluate the proposed process shows that the carbon footprint for the proposed process is much lower than that reported for alternative methodology, and the economic analysis reveals the cost-effective character associated to its high performance. This work is a step toward more sustainable and effective methodologies/processes with high industrial potential.

subject category

Chemistry, Multidisciplinary; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology; Engineering, Chemical


Martins, M; Soares, BP; Santos, JHPM; Bharmoria, P; Acosta, MAT; Dias, ACRV; Coutinho, JAP; Ventura, SPM

our authors


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, UIDB/50011/2020 & UIDP/50011/2020, and CESAM, UIDB/50017/2020 & UIDP/50017/2020, financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and by the project SusPhotoSolutions (CENTRO-01-0145-FEDER-000005) financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and when appropriate co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement through European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the frame of Operational Competitiveness and Internationalization Programme (POCI). S.P.M. Ventura thanks FCT for financial support through the project IF/00402/2015. The authors are also grateful for the national fund through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for the doctoral grant SFRH/BD/122220/2016 of M.M. and SFRH/BD/138439/2018 of B.P. Soares. J.H.P.M. Santos acknowledges FAPESP for his Post-Doctoral grant 2018/25994-2. A.C.R.V. Dias acknowledges FCT for her contract CEECIND/02174/2017. The authors also acknowledge ALGAplus company for gently providing the macroalgae used in this work.

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