New study demonstrates endophytic fungi show promise for natural cosmetic pigments

A study in The Journal of Fungi found that fungi from a medicinal plant produces a green extract with antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. The plant, Fridericia chica, hosted nine pigment-producing endophytic fungi, with H. investiens showing the best results for pigmentation.

“We demonstrated the potential of H. investiens​ CF1-37 as a new source of pigments for industrial applications,” the authors write, including food dye and cosmetic product applications. 

The genus Friderica is found in the Atlantic forest of Brazil and in the Amazon rainforest. It’s used for a variety of purposes including cosmetics and medicines and produces a red pigment.


For this study, aerial parts of three different Friderica chica bushes in the western Amazon were collected. These host leaves and branches revealed 121 fungi after isolation, with nine producing pigmentation.

The endophytic fungi isolated for this study ranged from beneficial to pathogenic. Endophytic fungi, specifically the filamentous varieties, can produce bicolor along with rapid growth that releases pigments, along with their potential use as antimicrobials, antioxidants and antibiotics, among other uses.

The nine fungi produced pigments including mycelium yellow, extracellular violet, dark grey, caramel, green and light orange. After analyzing the maximum absorbance wavelength for specific nanometer parameters, three endophytic fungi stood out: hypoxylon investiens, neoscytalidium and penicillum rubens. A submerged culture revealed the best in class: H. investiens. Antioxidant activity was evaluated via two different methods and the main chemical classes present were identified.

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