Black yeasts are a highly specified group of fungi, which are characterized by a high resistance against stress factors. There are several factors enabling the cells to survive harsh environmental conditions. One aspect is the pigmentation, the melanin black yeasts often display a highly diverse carotenoid spectrum. Determination and characterization of carotenoids depend on an efficient extraction and separation, especially for black yeast, which is characterized by thick cell walls. Therefore, specific protocols are needed to ensure reliable analyses regarding stress responses in these fungi. Here we present both. First, we present a method to extract and analyze carotenoids and secondly we present the unusual carotenoid composition of the black yeast Knufia petricola
A95. Mechanical treatment combined with an acetonitrile extraction gave us very good extraction rates with a high reproducibility. The presented extraction and elution protocol separates the main carotenoids (7) in K. petricola
A95 and can be extended for the detection of additional carotenoids in other species. K. petricola
A95 displays an unusual carotenoid composition, with mainly didehydrolycopene, torulene, and lycopene. The pigment composition varied in dependency to oxidative stress but remained relatively constant if the cells were cultivated under low temperature. Future experiments have to be carried out to determine if didehydrolycopene functions as a protective agent itself or if it serves as a precursor for antioxidative pigments like torulene and torularhodin, which could be produced after induction under stress conditions. Black yeasts are a promising source for carotenoid production and other substances. To unravel the potential of these fungi, new methods and studies are needed. The established protocol allows the determination of carotenoid composition in black yeasts.
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