Pilot scale production, extraction and purification of a thermostable phycocyanin from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803

Bioresour Technol. 2022 Feb:345:126459. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2021.126459. Epub 2021 Dec 1.


Phycocyanin (PC) is a soluble blue pigment-protein primarily harvested from the cyanobacterium Arthrospira platensis. PC is in high demand from several industries, but its narrow stability range limits potential applications. Here, a pilot scale (120 L total) batch production, extraction and purification process for thermostable PC (Te-PC) from a Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 'Olive' strain expressing the PC operon cpcBACD from Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1 on a self-replicating vector is presented. Batch cultivation without antibiotics had no impact on growth or Te-PC production and optimisation of growth conditions resulted in Te-PC contents of 75.3 ± 1.7 mg g DW-1. Wet biomass was harvested following chitosan-based flocculation with a 97 ± 2% efficiency, and Te-PC was extracted by high pressure homogenisation. Subsequent purification by heat-treatment and two-step ammonium sulfate precipitation removed chlorophyll and allophycocyanin contamination, resulting in Te-PC purities of 2.9 ± 0.7 and a mean Te-PC recovery of 84 ± 12%.

Keywords: Ammonium sulfate; Chitosan; High pressure homogenisation; Scale-up; Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1.

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Chlorophyll
  • Flocculation
  • Phycocyanin*
  • Synechocystis*


  • Phycocyanin
  • Chlorophyll