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J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2004 Dec;31(12):565-71. Epub 2004 Dec 11.

Beta-carotene production by Flavobacterium multivorum in the presence of inorganic salts and urea.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Moran Eye Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, 50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT, 84132, USA.


Flavobacterium multivorum, a non-fermenting Gram-negative bacteria, normally produces zeaxanthin (3R, 3' R-beta, beta-carotene-3, 3' diol) as its main carotenoid. The effect of supplementation of various inorganic salts and urea on the growth, total carotenoid production, and proportion of beta-carotene (beta, beta-carotene), beta-cryptoxanthin (beta, beta-caroten-3-ol), and zeaxanthin produced by F. multivorum was investigated. Urea and several salts, such as calcium chloride, ammonium chloride, lithium chloride, and sodium carbonate, improved total carotenoid production by 1.5- to 2.0-fold. Urea and sodium carbonate had an unexpectedly strong positive effect on beta-carotene production at the expense of zeaxanthin formation. The effect was found to be independent of incubation time, and beta-carotene represented 70% (w/w) of the total carotenoid content. The cumulative effect of urea and sodium carbonate was further studied using response surface methodology. An optimum medium was found to contain 4,000 and 4,070 mg l(-1) urea and sodium carbonate, respectively. The maximum beta-carotene level was 7.85 microg ml(-1) culture broth, which represented 80% (w/w) of the total carotenoid produced. Optimization resulted in 77- and 88-fold improvements in the volumetric and specific beta-carotene levels, respectively, accompanied by a simultaneous decrease in the zeaxanthin level as compared to the control medium. The carotenoid production profile in the optimized medium indicated that beta-carotene was produced maximally during the late exponential phase at 0.41 microg ml(-1) h(-1). It is possible that this organism could be an excellent commercial source of either beta-carotene or zeaxanthin, depending on initial culture conditions.

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