Pulcherrimin: A Natural Red Pigment & Antimicrobial

Reifen Ram, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition



Food & Nutrition


Natural Preservatives, Food Color, Probiotics

Current development stage

General list: TRL4 Technology validated in lab             

Collaboration Opportunity

Sponsored Research with an option to License Research Results



The demand for novel clean label antimicrobials, which prevent spoilage and food waste, is increasing at CAGR 4%[1].  Pulcherrimin is a ferrate chelate, reddish in appearance and has antimicrobial properties2. It is synthesized by various microorganisms such as the yeast Candida pulcherrima –its namesake.

Pulcherrimin is produced by various yeasts and produced by B. subtilis, (a probiotic Bacilli3). While forming biofilms, which helps it to colonize and protect its immediate environmental niche2 Pulcherrimin pigment has both antimicrobial properties2 as well as a natural reddish hue due to the 13 iron atoms4 attached to each molecule.


Our Innovation

The researchers have found that B. subtilis can produce Pulcherrimin in higher quantities when allowed to interact with chickpea fibers. The pulcherrimin successfully produced in the suspension is then extracted, cleaned, and dried to a powder.

Pulcherrimin powder can be incorporated into foods with natural red color to improve their shelf stability by acting as an antimicrobial and enhance pigmentation. This pigment could also be used in the pharmaceutical industry in the fight against antibiotic resistance. It could be used in place of some antibiotics.

Advantages of this technology are:

  • Novel and natural way for producing a reddish pigment
  • Novel antibiotic



Chickpea fibers (CPF) enhanced Pulcherrimin production in B. subtilis and biofilm knockout mutant cells grown in CPF suspension were able to synthesize this pigment. B subtilis cells produce the Pulcherrimin in only CPF enriched media and not other additives like cellulose fiber (CF) and wheat fiber (WF).



The researchers are looking for further sponsored research and an industry partner to bring Pulcherrimin as a novel additive to the food, medical and cosmetic market.


Scientific Articles

Biofilm formation onto starch fibers by Bacillus subtilis governs its successful adaptation to chickpea milk: https://doi.org/10.1111/1751-7915.13665

Chickpea-Derived Prebiotic Substances Trigger Biofilm Formation by Bacillus subtilis https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124228


Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
Contact ME: