Food processing industry by-products (apple, pomegranate, black carrot, and red beet pulps) were evaluated as raw materials in pigment production by the filamentous fungi Aspergillus carbonarius. The effect of fermentation conditions (solid and submerged-state), incubation period (3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 d), initial substrate pH (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5), and pulp particle size (<1.4, 1.4-2.0, 2-4, and >4 mm) on fungal pigment production were tested to optimize the conditions. Pigment extraction analysis carried out under solid-state fermentation conditions showed that the maximum pigment production was determined as 9.21 ± 0.59 absorbance unit at the corresponding wavelength per gram (AU/g) dry fermented mass (dfm) for pomegranate pulp (PP) by A. carbonarius for 5 d. Moreover, the highest pigment production was obtained as 61.84 ± 2.16 AU/g dfm as yellowish brown at initial pH 6.5 with < 1.4 mm of substrate particle size for 15-d incubation period. GC×GC-TOFMS results indicate that melanin could be one of the main products as a pigment. SEM images showed that melanin could localize on the conidia of A. carbonarius.
Keywords: Aspergillus carbonarius; bio-based pigment; bioconversion; filamentous fungi; food processing industry by-product valorization.