Carotenoids are a class of naturally occurring pigments that typically impart color in the spectrum from yellow to red. They have a wide application in the food and beverage, dietary supplement, personal care, and animal feed industries. Carotenoids are a class of chemicals defined as 40-carbon molecules and many are found in the foods we eat. There are numerous benefits of carotenoids, which can include their use as antioxidants, food colorants, UV protection, precursors to vitamins, protection from inflammatory diseases, eye health, bone growth and immunity. Carotenoids are produced by many plant species as well as some bacteria, fungi, and algae. They can also be synthesized from precursor chemicals derived from petroleum. At Verdezyne, we produce carotenoids utilizing our industrially proven yeast platform. Natural feedstocks and fermentation technology can accelerate carotenoid production. Verdezyne is able to consistently produce high-purity carotenoids through a secure of renewable feedstock, which can bring increased availability more economically than traditional sources.
What is Natural vs Synthetic?
Natural. Synthetic. Organic. Authentic. Artificial.
All of these words are commonly found in the description of products we see on store shelves, some are considered positive and some negative. It can be very confusing...some labels are highly regulated while others are more loosely defined. The information provided here is meant to inform on our production methods and how they might be considered in light of these different labels.
Lycopene is a 40-carbon molecule related to other naturally-occurring pigments such as beta-carotene that are found in many foods. It is mainly associated with the red color in tomatoes however it is also present in watermelon, apricot, pink guava, and gac. Lycopene and other carotenoids are bioactive molecules with health benefits resulting from their anti-oxidant properties.
Commercial lycopene is produced through synthetic organic chemistry, harvested from microorganisms via fermentation, or extracted from fruits such as tomatoes. The lycopene content in tomatoes varies but is in the range of 10-20 mg per 100 g of fresh fruit, which means that it requires 100,000 tomatoes to produce 1 kg of lycopene.
Verdezyne produces lycopene by fermentation from renewable feedstocks in a process that is safe and environmentally friendly.
Beta-carotene is the most famous of the 40-carbon carotenoid molecules which are naturally-occurring pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. The name is taken from carrots, however other natural sources high in beta-carotene are pumpkin, sweet potato, crude palm oil and spinach. It has anti-oxidant properties and is well known as a precursor to Vitamin A which is important in eye health.
Most beta-carotene is produced by chemical synthesis from petroleum based precursors however it can also be harvested from microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, or algae) after fermentation.
Verdezyne produces beta-carotene in fermentation from renewable feedstocks using our proprietary yeast production platform.
Astaxanthin is another member of the carotenoid family of naturally occurring pigments and is responsible for the red color of salmon meat and cooked shrimp. The chemical structure is similar to beta-carotene; however, the additional oxygen moieties place astaxanthin in the xanthophyll subfamily of carotenoids. As with other carotenoids, it is a powerful antioxidant but its chemical structure prevents its metabolism into other vitamin forms leading to its accumulation in the tissues of animals.
It is naturally produced by yeast and algae for its antioxidant properties in response to exposure to intense sunlight. Commercially available astaxanthin is often harvested from these microorganisms after fermentation; however, the major production method is chemical synthesis from petroleum-based precursors.
Verdezyne produces astaxanthin in fermentation from renewable feedstocks using our proprietary yeast production platform.
Canthaxanthin is a red-orange member of the carotenoid family of naturally occurring pigments. The chemical structure is intermediate between beta-carotene and astaxanthin having two oxygen groups, whereas beta-carotene has none and astaxanthin has four (two keto and two hydroxyl). Canthaxanthin is used in animal feed to impart color and for its antioxidant properties. It is also used as a dye for foods such as soup, salad dressing, and tomato juice.
Canthaxanthin is currently produced commercially by chemical synthesis from petroleum-based precursors.
Verdezyne produces canthaxanthin in fermentation from renewable feedstocks using our proprietary yeast production platform.
Lutein is a yellow-colored carotenoid molecule produced only in plants. The chemical structure of lutein contains a beta ring and an epsilon ring at the termini, each of which are hydroxylated. It is an antioxidant and accumulates in the fat tissue of animals as well as in egg yolks making it an important component of poultry diet. It also accumulates in the retina where it can contribute to eye health.
Lutein is produced commercially from dried marigold flowers requiring large-scale cultivation, manual harvesting of flowers, and a multi-step process for the drying, saponification, and extraction of the free form of the molecule.
Verdezyne produces lutein in a one-step fermentation process from renewable feedstocks using our proprietary yeast production platform.