Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 19, pp 7943–7952 | Cite as

Purification and structural characterization of a novel natural pigment: cordycepene from edible and medicinal mushroom Cordyceps militaris

  • Hongbiao Tang
  • Chuxin Chen
  • Yuan Zou
  • Haiwei Lou
  • Qianwang Zheng
  • Liqiong GuoEmail author
  • Junfang LinEmail author
  • Zhiwei Ye
  • Fan Yun
Biotechnological products and process engineering


In the present work, a novel cordycepic pigment was successfully isolated and identified from Cordyceps militaris, as well as named as cordycepene (C14H17N1O4), according to the long unsaturated conjugated polyene structural characteristic. Cordycepene is sensitive to light, high temperature (≥ 60 °C), and acidic condition (pH ≤ 3), but possesses high stability against metal ions, and under alkaline and neutral conditions. Cordycepene shows a comparable DPPH (1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical-scavenging activity at higher concentration (≥ 2 mg/mL) to vitamin C. Cordycepene promotes the growth of HSF (human skin fibroblast cell) after incubation for 72 h, and has an ability to repair the UV light–treated HSF cells. In addition, cordycepene increases the antioxidant activity (SOD, superoxide dismutase; GSH-Px, glutathione peroxidase; CAT, catalase) and decreases MDA (malondialdehyde) level, indicating that cordycepene inhibits the photochemical senescence of HSF by enhancing the antioxidant defense system. The discovery of cordycepene can provide a basis for research on light incubation and the accumulation of yellow pigment (carotenoids) from C. militaris.


Cordyceps militaris Cordycepene Stability Antioxidant 


Funding information

This work was supported by Technology Program of Guangdong Province and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, (grant nos. 2014B020205003, 2016A030313404), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 31572178, 31772273, 31801918).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Food Science & Institute of Food BiotechnologySouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Research Center for Micro-Ecological Agent Engineering and Technology of Guangdong ProvinceGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Alchemy Biotechnology Co. Ltd. of Guangzhou CityGuangzhouChina

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