Time-temperature-resolved functional and structural changes of phycocyanin extracted from Arthrospira platensis/Spirulina.Food Chem. 2020 Jun 30; 316:126374.FC
Arthrospira platensis, commonly known as Spirulina, gains increasing importance as alternative protein source for food production and biotechnological systems. A promising area is functional high-value algae extracts, rich in phycocyanin, a protein-pigment complex derived from A. platensis. This complex has proven functionality as the only natural blue colorant, fluorescent marker and therapeutic agent. The structure-function relationship is heat sensitive, making thermal processing in its production and its subsequent application a crucial aspect. In continuous high-temperature short-time treatments, it was shown how a purified phycocyanin (mixture of allophycocyanin and c-phycocyanin) disassembled and denatured between 50 and 70 °C. Three characteristic transition temperatures were allocated to specific quaternary aggregates. In contrast to sequential chemical denaturation, phycocyanin's chromophore and protein structure were simultaneously affected by thermal processing. Through a functionality assessment, the findings help optimize the efficiency of raw material usage by defining a processing window, enabling targeted process control resulting in desired product properties.