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Development of innovative strategies for the application of microalgae carotenoids and chlorophylls as natural pigments in functional foods

Grant number: 21/13567-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Food Science and Technology - Food Science
Principal Investigator:Veridiana Vera de Rosso
Grantee:Andrêssa Silva Fernandes
Host Institution: Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade (ISS). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):23/02202-1 - Bioaccessibility of microalgae chlorophylls in 3D printed bigels: relationship between bigel composition, physical, mechanical and microstructural characteristics, BE.EP.PD


Globally, the food challenges for the coming decades are quite complex and go beyond the strict concept of healthy diets. The adoption of eating habits to promote good health and quality of life, coupled with sustainability for the planet, will guide public policies worldwide. In this perspective, the search for alternatives to synthetic food constituents has become imminent and places natural dyes on the rise as promising alternatives. To achieve these goals, innovative strategies must be drawn up aiming at the wide application of natural dyes in an effective way in the formulation of foods to maintain the stability of the color and its biological properties. The development of more sustainable extraction methods to replace conventional volatile organic solvents and the search for alternative biomass sources to obtain natural pigments are strong trends. In this context, microalgae can successfully support and position themselves for the production of valuable bioproducts, among which the phytochemicals carotenoids and chlorophylls are highlighted. These compounds have attracted interest in several areas of the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries, mainly in the development of products with functional and nutraceutical properties. Aiming at all these aspects, this project proposes to obtain extracts of carotenoids and chlorophylls from the microalgae Scenedesmus obliquus and Chlorella vulgaris for application as natural pigments and functional compounds. The objective is to develop high-performance methods for the simultaneous extraction of pigments with a green chemistry approach through the use of ionic liquids (ILs). For this, four LIs will be tested, two of commercial origin and two synthesized in the laboratory. The extraction methods will be optimized, aiming at the reuse and recovery of LIs. The qualitative and quantitative characterization of the extracts will be performed by HPLC-PAD-MS/MS. Additionally, this project aims to broadly understand the properties of carotenoids and chlorophylls when incorporated into nanostructures and as part of the constitution of bioinks for 3D food printing. It will also be evaluated physicochemical properties, functional and nutritional characteristics of nanostructures and bioinks of bioprinted products through analysis of antioxidant activity, bioaccessibility and uptake in a cell model (CACO2).

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