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World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Oct;29(10):1737-50. doi: 10.1007/s11274-013-1352-y. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Actinobacterial melanins: current status and perspective for the future.

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  • 1Marine Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Chemistry and Marine Bioprocess Research Center, Pukyong National University, Busan, 608-737, Republic of Korea,


Melanins are enigmatic pigments that are produced by a wide variety of microorganisms including several species of bacteria and fungi. Melanins are biological macromolecules with multiple important functions, yet their structures are not well understood. Melanins are frequently used in medicine, pharmacology, and cosmetics preparations. Melanins also have great application potential in agriculture industry. They have several biological functions including photoprotection, thermoregulation, action as free radical sinks, cation chelators, and antibiotics. Plants and insects incorporate melanins as cell wall and cuticle strengtheners, respectively. Actinobacteria are the most economically as well as biotechnologically valuable prokaryotes. However, the melanin properties are, in general, poorly understood. In this review an evaluation is made on the present state of research on actinobacterial melanins and its perspectives. The highlights include the production and biotechnological applications of melanins in agriculture, food, cosmetic and medicinal fields. With increasing advancement in science and technology, there would be greater demands in the future for melanins produced by actinobacteria from various sources.

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