Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Bacterial astaxanthin: production and application in aquaculture - a review

Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, Nguyen Ngoc Lan, Nguyen Kim Thoa, Nguyen Thi Dieu Phuong, Nguyen Quang Huy, Nguyen Huy Hoang


Astaxanthin is red or pink pigment that found in crustaceans and marine animals. Astaxanthin plays an important role in enhancing the commercial value, the reproductivity and survivability of aquatic species. Due to crustaceans and marine animals are unable to self-synthesize astaxanthin, the demand for astaxanthin especially natural astaxanthin added to the food for aquaculture are increasing. Natural astaxanthin sources from algae, yeast and bacteria are being used in industrial production. However, astaxanthin from bacteria has the advantage of being easier to absorb than algae and yeast. Therefore, astaxanthin biosynthesis by bacteria are being very noticeable. Many bacterial strains are capable of producing astaxanthin such as Paracoccus spp., Agrobacterium spp., Sphingomonas spp., Pseudomonas spp., Halobacterium spp.... Among these, Paracoccus carotinifaciens is one of the most studied and used species in astaxanthin production. In this review, we summarize information about the role and situation using of astaxanthin in aquaculture. Especially, we focus on the astaxanthin from bacteria in aquaculture to improve color of aquatic species such as ornamental fish, rainbow trout, and shrimp in the world and Vietnam. Besides that, the progress to enhance astaxanthin production such as genetic engineering, gene mutations, as well as optimization of fermentation conditions are also discussed in this article. These are useful information for the development and application of astaxanthin from bacteria in aquaculture.


Aquaculture, Astaxanthin, astaxnathin producing bacteria, role and application

Full Text:



Ando S, Amauchi H, Hatano M, Heard, WR (1992) Comparison of muscle compositions between red- and white-fleshed chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Aquaculture 103: 359–365.

Andrews AG, Phaff HJ, Starr MP (1976) Carotenoids of Phaffia rhodozyma, a red pigmented fermenting yeast. Phytochemistry15: 1003–1007.

Ambati RR, Phang SM, Ravi S, Aswathanarayana RG (2014) Astaxanthin: sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial application- a review. Marine drugs 12(1): 128–152.

Asker D, Beppu T, Ueda K (2007) Sphingomonas astaxanthinifaciens sp. nov., a novel astaxanthin-producing bacterium of the family Sphingomonadaceae isolated from Misasa, Tottori, Japan. FEMS Microbiol Lett 273(2): 140–148.

Bories G, Brantom P, de Barberà JB, Chesson A, Cocconcelli PS, Debski B, Dierick N, Franklin A, Gropp J, Halle I, Hogstrand C, de Knecht J, Leng L, Haldorsen AKL, Mantovani A, Mézes M, Nebbia C, Rambeck W, Rychen G, von Wright A, Wester P (2007) Safety and efficacy of Panaferd-AX (red carotenoid-rich bacterium Parracoccus carotinifaciens as feed additive for salmon and trout. EFSA J 546: 1–30.

Bubrick P (1991) Production of astaxanthin from Haematococcus. Bioresour Technol 38: 237–239.

Calo P, Miguel TD, Sieiro C, Velazquez JB, Villa TG (1995) Ketocarotenoids in halobacteria: 3‐hydroxy‐echinenone and trans‐astaxanthin. J Appl Bacteriol 79(3): 282–285.

Choi JI, Lee PC, Kim JH, Song BS, Yoon Y, Byun MW, Lee JW (2009) Medium optimization for the production of astaxanthin by Paracoccus sp. using response surface methodology. J Biosci Bioeng 108: S129.

Chougle JA, Singhal RS (2012) Metabolic precursors and cofactors stimulate astaxanthin production in Paracoccus MBIC 01143. Food Sci Biotechnol 21(6): 1695–1700.

Chougle JA, Singhal RS, Baik OD (2014) Recovery of astaxanthin from Paracoccus NBRC 101723 using ultrasound-assisted three phase partitioning (UA-TPP). Sep Sci Technol 49(6): 811–818.

Davis BH (1985) Carotenoid metabolism in animals: A biochemist’s view. Pure Appl Chem 57: 679–684.

Đặng Quang Hiếu, Hà Lê Thị Lộc, Bùi Minh Tâm (2010) Ảnh hưởng của hàm lượng Spirulina và astaxanthin trong thức ăn đến tăng trưởng và màu sắc cá Dĩa (Symphysodonsp.) giai đoạn 20-50 ngày tuổi. Tạp chí khoa học Đại học Cần Thơ 14b: 311–320.

Fraser PD, Miura Y, Misawa N (1997) In vitro characterization of astaxanthin biosynthetic enzymes. J Biol Chem 272(10): 6128–6135.

Goodwin TW (1984) The biochemistry of carotenoids. In 2nd ed., Chapman và Hall, London:64–96.

Guerin M, Huntley ME, Olaizola M (2003) Haematococcus astaxanthin: applications for human health and nutrition. TRENDS in Biotechnology 21(5): 210–216.

Gupta SK, Jha AK, Pal AK, Venkateshwarlu G (2007) Use of natural carotenoids for pigmentation in fishes. Natural Product Radiance 6(1): 46–49.

Güroy B, Şahin İ, Mantoğlu S, Kayalı S (2012) Spirulina as a natural carotenoid source on growth, pigmentation and reproductive performance of yellow tail cichlid Pseudotropheus acei. Aquac Int 20(5): 869–878.

Harker M, Hirschberg J, Oren A (1998) Paracoccus marcusii sp. nov., an orange gram-negative coccus. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 48(2): 543–548.

Henke NA, Heider SA, Peters-Wendisch P, Wendisch VF (2016) Production of the marine carotenoid astaxanthin by metabolically engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum. Marine drugs 14(7): 124.

Hirasawa K, Satoh H, Yoneda H, Yata T, Azuma M (2011) Method for producing astaxanthin by fermentation. US Patent Application 13: 634–657.

Hồ Sơn Lâm, Nguyễn Tường Vi, Phan Thị Ngọc (2016) Ảnh hưởng của astaxanthin bổ sung trong thức ăn lên tăng trưởng, tỷ lệ sống và màu sắc da cá khoang cổ nemo (Amphiprion ocellaris) thương mại. Tạp chí Khoa học và Công nghệ Biển 16 (3): 321–327.

Ide T, Hoya M, Tanaka T, Harayama S (2012) Enhanced production of astaxanthin in Paracoccus sp. strain N-81106 by using random mutagenesis and genetic engineering. Biochem Eng J 65: 37–43.

Iizuka H, Nishimura Y (1969) Microbiological studies on petroleum and natural Gas. J Gen Appl Microb 15(2): 127-134.

Johnson EA (1991) Astaxanthin from microbial sources. Crit Rev Biotechnol 11: 297–326.

Katsumata T, Ishibashi T, Kyle D (2014) A sub-chronic toxicity evaluation of a natural astaxanthin-rich carotenoid extract of Paracoccus carotinifaciens in rats. Toxicol Rep 1: 582–588.

Kurnia A, Satoh S, Kuramoto D, Hanzawa S (2007) Effect of different astaxanthin sources on skin pigmentation of red sea bream (Pagrus major). Aquacult Sci 55(3): 441–447.

Kurnia A, Satoh S, Hanzawa S (2010) Effect of Paracoccus sp. and their genetically modified on skin coloration of red sea bream. HAYATI J Biosci 17(2): 79–84.

Kurnia A, Satoh S, Haga Y, Kudo H, Nakada M, Matsumura H, Watanabe Y, Adachi S (2015) Muscle coloration of rainbow trout with astaxanthin sources from marine bacteria and synthetic astaxanthin. J Aquacult Res Develop 6(5): 1.

Lee JH, Kim YS, Choi TJ, Lee WJ, Kim YT (2004) Paracoccus haeundaensis sp. nov., a Gram-negative, halophilic, astaxanthin-producing bacterium. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 54: 1699–1672.

Lee JH, Kim YT (2006) Functional expression of astaxanthin biosynthesis genes from a marine bacterium, Paracocucus haeundaensis. Biotechnol Lett 28: 1167–1173.

Lee JH, Kim YS (2006) Cloning and characterization of the astaxanthin biosynthesis gene cluster from the marine bacterium Paracoccus haeundaensis. Gene 370: 86–95.

Lee JH, Seo YB, Kim YT (2008) Enhanced production of astaxanthin by metabolic engineered isoprenoid pathway in Escherichia coli. Kor J Life Sci 18(12): 1764–1770.

Lemuth K, Steuer K, Albermann C (2011) Engineering of a plasmid-free Escherichia coli strain for improved in vivo biosynthesis of astaxanthin. Microb Cell Fact 10(1): 29.

Ma T, Zhou Y, Li X, Zhu F, Cheng Y, Liu Y, Deng Z, Liu T (2016) Genome mining of astaxanthin biosynthetic genes from Sphingomonas sp. ATCC 55669 for heterologous overproduction in Escherichia coli. Biotechnol J 11: 228–237.

Mageswari A, Subramanian P, Srinivasan R, Karthikeyan

S, Gothandam KM (2015) Astaxanthin from psychrotrophic Sphingomonas faeni exhibits antagonism against food-spoilage bacteria at low temperatures. Microbiol Res 179: 38–44.

Marsden GE, McGuren JJ, Hansford SW, Burke MJ (1997) A moist artificial diet for prawn broodstock: its effect on the variable reproductive performance of wild caught Penaeus monodon. Aquaculture 149: 145–156.

Matsuno T, Hirao S (1989) Marine Biogenc Lipids, Fats, and Oils. In Avàman ed. Marine carotenoids. CRC Press, Florida, 251–388.

Matsumoto M, Iwama D, Arakaki A, Tanaka A, Tanaka T, Miyashita H, Matsunaga T (2011) Altererythrobacter ishigakiensis sp. nov., an astaxanthin-producing bacterium isolated from a marine sediment. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 61(12): 2956–2961.

Misawa N, Satomi Y, Kondo K, Yokoyama A, Kajiwara S, Saito T, Ohtani T, Miki W (1995) Structure and functional analysis of a marine bacterial carotenoid biosynthesis gene cluster and astaxanthin biosynthetic pathway proposed at the gene level. J Bacteriol 177(22): 6575–6584.

Nègre-Sadargues G, Castillo R, Petit H, Sancé S, Martinez RG, Milicua JC, Choubert G, Trilles JP (1993) Utilization of synthetic carotenoids by the prawn Penaeus japonicus reared under laboratory conditions. Aquaculture 110: 151–159.

Ni H, Chen QH, He GQ, Wu GB, Yang YF (2008) Optimization of acidic extraction of astaxanthin from Phaffia rhodozyma. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B 9(1): 51–59.

Niu J, Tian LX, Liu YJ, Yang HJ, Ye CX, Gao W, Mai KS (2009) Effect of dietary astaxanthin on growth, survival, and stress tolerance of postlarval shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. J World Aquacult Soc 40(6): 795–802.

Niu J, Li CH, Liu YJ, Tian LX, Chen X, Huang Z, Lin HZ (2012) Dietary values of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin in Penaeus monodon in the presence and absence of cholesterol supplementation: effect on growth, nutrient digestibility and tissue carotenoid composition. Br J Nutr 108(01): 80–91.

Ngô Thị Thanh Hương, Nguyễn Văn Tam (2014) Thực trạng xuất nhập khẩu cá cảnh ở Việt Nam.

Nguyễn Thị Hương (2008 – 2012) Nghiên cứu tách chiết astaxanthin từ các chủng vi tảo Haematococcus phân lập ở Việt Nam. Báo cáo tổng kết đề tài. Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội.

Nguyễn Thị Trang, Nguyễn Tiến Hóa (2013) Ảnh hưởng của thức ăn có bổ sung astaxanthin và canthaxanthin với tỷ lệ khác nhau lên màu sắc thịt cá hồi vân (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Tạp chí Khoa học và Phát triển 11 (7): 981–986.

Nguyễn Thị Vân Anh (2012 – 2015) Nghiên cứu sàng lọc các chủng vi khuẩn Bacillus từ gà và tôm để sản xuất probiotic có tính ưu việt cho chăn nuôi và thủy sản. Báo cáo tổng kết đề tài. Trường Đại học Khoa học Tự nhiên, Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội.

Osanjo GO, Muthike EW, Tsuma L, Okoth MW, Bulimo WD, Luuml H, Abraham WR, Dion M, Timmis KN, Golyshin PN, Mulaa FJ (2009). A salt lake extremophile, Paracoccus bogoriensis sp. nov., efficiently produces xanthophyll carotenoids. Afr J Microbiol Res 3(8): 426–433.

Paripatananont T, Tangtrongpairoj J, Sailasuta A, Chansue N (1999) Effect of astaxanthin on the pigmentation of goldfish Carassius auratus. J World Aquacult Soc 30(4): 454–460.

Paibulkichakul C, Piyatiratitivorakul S, Sorgeloos P, Menasveta P (2008) Improved maturation of pond-reared, black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) using fish oil and astaxanthin feed supplements. Aquaculture 282(1): 83–89.

Putnam M (1991) A review of the nature, function, variability and supply of pigments in salmonid fish. In: Aquaculture and the environment, de Pauw N and Joyce J, eds. EAS Special Publication, Gent, Belgium: 245–263

Rick WY, Stead KJ, Yao H, He H (2006) Mutational and functional analysis of the β-carotene ketolase involved in the production of canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. Appl Environ Microbiol 72(9): 5829–5837.

Sedgwick SD (1995) Trout Farming Handbook, 6th ed. Fishing News Books, Oxford, UK.

Seo YB, Choi SS, Nam SW, Lee JH, Kim YT (2009) Cloningand characterization of the zeaxanthin glucosyltransferase gene (crtX) from theastaxanthin-producing marine bacterium, Paracoccus haeundaensis. J Microbiol Biotechnol 19(12): 1542–1546.

Seyedi SM, Sharifpour I, Ramin M, Jamili S (2013) Effect of dietary astaxanthin on survival, growth, pigmentation clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris, Cuvier. Ind J Fund Appl Life Sci 3(3): 391–395.

Shahina M, Hameed A, Lin SY, Hsu YH, Liu YC, Cheng IC, Lee MR, Lai WA, Lee RJ, Young CC (2013) Sphingomicrobium astaxanthinifaciens sp. nov., an astaxanthin-producing glycolipid-rich bacterium isolated from surface seawater and emended description of the genus Sphingomicrobium. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 63(9): 3415–3422.

Storebakken T, No HK (1992) Pigmentation of rainbow trout. Aquaculture 100: 209–229.

Takaichi S, Maoka T, Akimoto N, Khan ST, Harayama S (2006) Major carotenoid isolated from Paracoccus schoinia NBRC 100637T is adonixanthin diglucoside. J Nat Prod 69: 1823–1825.

Tao L, Wilczek J, Odom JM, Cheng Q (2006) Engineering

a β-carotene ketolase for astaxanthin production. Metab Eng 8(6): 523–531.

Tan PS (2006) Skin colour changes in ornamental Koi (Cyprinus carpio) fed different dietary carotenoid sources. Master Thesis. University Sains Malaysia.

Tangeras A, Slinde E (1994) Coloring of salmonids in aquaculture: The yeast Phaffia rhodozyma as a source of astaxanthin. In Fisheries Processing Martin AM, ed. Springer, US: 394–431.

Torrissen OJ, Christiansen R, Struksnæs G, Estermann R (1995) Astaxanthin deposition in the flesh of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., in relation to dietary astaxanthin concentration and feeding period. Aquacult Nutr 1: 77–84.

Torrissen OJ, Christiansen R (1995) Requirements for carotenoids in fish diets. J Appl Ichthyol 11(3‐4): 225–230.

Tống Kim Thuần, Trần Thanh Thủy (2007) Xác định hàm lượng sắc tố astaxanthin trong tế bào của chủng nấm men Phaffia rhodozyma NT5 được sử dụng làm thức ăn bổ sung trong nuôi trồng thủy sản. Tạp chí Sinh học 29(1): 82–88.

Tsubokura A, Yoneda H, Mizuta H (1999) Paracoccus carotinifaciens sp. nov., a new aerobic gram-negative astaxanthin-producing bacterium. Int J Syst Bacteriol 49: 277–282.

Wouters R, Lavens P, Julia N, Sorgeloos P (2001) Penaeid shrimp broodstock nutrition: an updated review on research and development. Aquaculture 202: 1–21.

Yamada S, Tanaka Y, Sameshima M, Ito Y (1990) Pigmentation of prawn (Penaeus japonicus) with carotenoids. I. Effect of dietary astaxanthin, beta-carotene and canthaxanthin on pigmentation. Aquaculture 87: 323–330.

Yedier S, Gümüs E, Livengood EJ, Chapman FA (2014) The relationship between carotenoid type and skin color in the ornamental red zebra cichlid Maylandia estherae. AACL Bioflux 7: 207–216.

Yokoyama A, Izumida H, Miki W (1994) Production of astaxanthin and 4-ketozeaxanthin by the marine bacterium, Agrobacterium aurantiacum. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 58: 1842–1844.

Yokoyama A, Miki W, Izumida H, Shizuri Y (1996) New trihydroxy-keto-carotenoids isolated from an astaxanthin-producing marine bacterium. Biosci Biotech Biochem 60(2): 200–203.

Zhang J, Liu YJ, Tian LX, Yang HJ, Liang GY, Yue YR, Xu DH (2013) Effects of dietary astaxanthin on growth, antioxidant capacity and gene expression in Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Aquac Nutr 19(6): 917–927.