Safe and Complete Extraction of Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis by Efficient Mechanical Disruption of Cyst Cell Wall

Muhammad Irshad, Min Eui Hong, Aye Aye Myint, Jaehoon Kim, Sang Jun Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Haematococcus pluvialis (H. pluvialis) can naturally accumulate high amounts of astaxanthin- A powerful antioxidant. However, complete recovery of astaxanthin from the cysts of H. pluvialis is challenging because of the presence of a robust acetolysis resistant cell wall. Herein, a simple and effective planetary ball-milling pretreatment was developed to rupture the cells to attain an almost complete recovery of astaxanthin from H. pluvialis, using a supercritical CO2 and conventional organic solvent-based extraction. An optimized pretreatment using planetary ball mill under very mild conditions (150 rpm, 60↠min) allowed the recovery of 31.4↠mg/g dry weight of astaxanthin from H. pluvialis, while slightly harsh milling (500 rpm) was found to be detrimental toward astaxanthin. The extracts in acetone exhibited higher antioxidant activity in 1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay than those in dichloromethane. These mild conditions were safe and highly effective for the complete extraction of astaxanthin along with the others extractables. This study opens a new avenue for the efficient recovery of valuable thermolabile ketocarotenoid species from microalgae, which can be applied to the development of economically viable biorefineries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190128
JournalInternational Journal of Food Engineering
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019 Jan 1



  • astaxanthin
  • cell wall disruption
  • extraction
  • fatty acids
  • Haematococcus pluvialis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

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