Background: Colorant-producing microorganisms are quite common in nature. These biomolecules present many biological activities such as antitumoral, antimicrobial and antioxidant, in addition to the various nuances of color, making them of special technological importance to the industrial sectors.
Objective: This study aims to conduct a technological mapping in the patent, at European patent Office (EPO), in order to evaluate the global panorama of the use of microbial colorants.
Methods: The experimental design was acquired by the keyword-driven approach through the advanced search in the Espacenet database European Patent Office (EPO). The keywords selected were bacteria or fungi* or yeast or algae or microorganism* but not plant* and pigment* or color* or colorant* or dye* and the International Patent Classification code, C09B61, for prospecting of interest.
Results: There has been a linear increase in patents developed in the last 20 years, with Japan as the largest depositor in the area. The companies Dainippon Ink and Chemicals and Ajinomoto, both being Japanese, are the largest depositors with 20% of all patents. Among the microorganisms, the filamentous fungi appeared in the first place with 32% of documents and the fungi of the genus Monascus were the most frequently used.
Conclusion: The use of microbial colorants has been growing among industries, mainly in food sectors, due to the growing demand for products of natural origin. Thus, the increase in research and technological development in the area of microbial colorants can become an economically viable and promising strategy for the various industrial sectors.
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