Farming of Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae in a raceway. (Photo: FINCyT.gob.pe)
Natural pigment developed for aquaculture
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
The government is funding a project through the Science and Technology Programme (FINC&T) to obtain natural astaxanthin from the farming of Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae.
Astaxanthin is a pigment highly utilised as a natural colorant in the aquaculture, food and pharmaceutical industries, among others.
The research project is co-funded by the FINC&T, the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) and the Public Treasury.
| Astaxanthin in powder form. (Photo: Fincyt)
According to Alejandro Afuso Higa, executive director of the programme, “with the natural astaxanthin pigment, new products for the aquaculture market [pigmentation of trout and shrimp], the pharmaceutical market [as a natural antioxidant], and the food market [pigments] will be obtainable at relatively economic prices in comparison to imported products.”
Astaxanthin serves as a pigment for trout and other species in the aquaculture market, “which will result in a greater added value of the product for its internal commercialisation, as well as its export aims,” he continued explaining.
In addition, he noted that this pigment possesses antioxidant characteristics, Andina reports.
The research forms part of the of Technological Innovation Project of Individual Companies (PITEI) signed on 1 January 2008 between the FINC&T and the company Andexs Biotechnology SRL, which is being developed in the district of Cerro Colorado, Arequipa province.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the project at Andexs Biotechnology SRL, Nestor Chaucca, indicated that one of the major attractions of astaxanthin is its natural origin.
“Currently, the salmon farming industry uses synthetic colorant and the astaxanthin produced in Peru would be the natural option,” Chaucca added.
He further noted that in other parts of the world, like in Hawaii or Israel, the production of astaxanthin from these microalgae has a high commercial cost and is destined mainly to human consumption.
In the case of Peru, he stressed that “the clean climate and the high photonic radiation that the region of Arequipa and/or the Peruvian coast features allows this type of farming to count on great competitive advantages to provision the local industry.”
For Chaucca, the local production of this pigment would imply a lower cost in comparison to imports.
By Analia Murias