Filamentous Fungi Are Large-Scale Producers of Pigments and Colorants for the Food Industry

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014 Apr;26:56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Oct 22.


With globalization in the research trends, healthier life styles, and the growing market for the natural food colorants in the economically fast-growing countries all over the world, filamentous fungi are being investigated as readily available sources of chemically diverse colorants. With two selected examples, polyketide-Monascus-like pigments from the new fungal production strains, and the promising and yet unexplored hydroxy-anthraquinoid colorants, the present review highlights exciting recent findings, which may pave the way for alternative and/or additional biotechnological processes for the industrial production of natural food colorants of improved functionality. As an additional aspect, marine fungi are discussed as potential sources of novel pigments of numerous color hues and atypical chemical structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthraquinones / metabolism
  • Aquatic Organisms / chemistry
  • Aquatic Organisms / metabolism
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Food Coloring Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Food Coloring Agents / chemistry
  • Food Coloring Agents / metabolism*
  • Food Industry / methods*
  • Fungi / chemistry
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mycotoxins / analysis
  • Pigments, Biological / biosynthesis*
  • Pigments, Biological / chemistry
  • Polyketides / metabolism


  • Anthraquinones
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Polyketides