Symposium on Monascus

Philippe.Blanc blanc at insa-tlse.fr
Wed Sep 16 10:47:05 EST 1998

TOULOUSE, 8-10 July 1998

The symposium on  Monascus culture and applications was held in Toulouse
(France) from 8 to 10 July 1998. It hosted about 30 scientists from all
over the World representing 16 nationalities (China, Indonesia,
Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Germany, Slovakia, The Netherlands,
Switzerland, Spain, France, Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia).

The first part of the symposium was dedicated to the production of red
pigments by Monascus, especially to use or raise the value of
agricultural resources such as wheat, corn, cassava, soybean, prickly
pears. All the lectures showed the feasibility of such substrates and
the occurrence of good production yields either in solid-state cultures 
or in submerged cultures.
Co-cultures of Monascus with lactic acid bacteria, yeast or other fungi
favours higher production of pigments than pure cultures of  Monascus
showing the positive action of some enzymes or metabolite coming from
the other micro-organisms. Lastly in Thailand and in Spain, the first
work on the genetics of  Monascus has begun.

The lectures and poster sessions revealed concerns about food and
non-food applications of the red and yellow pigments. In the coloration
of meat products (pork), fish flesh, vegetarian food containing soybean
and dairy products, the possibility of using these pigments was
confirmed especially where efficiency and stability were concerned.  In
non-food applications, the possibility of tinting textiles as silk and
also biodegradable coatings was demonstrated.

The second part of the symposium was dedicated to the production of
metabolites other than red pigments : monacolins and citrinin. The
production of monacolins was presented by various Chinese scientists,
these metabolites being able to inhibite HMG-CoA reductase and so favour
the lowering of cholesterol levels in human blood. Monacolins can be
used after purification as drugs and can also be used as a component of
red rice and thus considered as nutraceuticals.
Lastly, the problem of the production of toxins by Monascus was
presented, especially citrinin. The production of this by-product
jeopardises the approval of the pigments either in EU or USA.  The
present lack of approval was discussed at length, especially with regard
to what to do in order to get things moving. It has led to the following
conclusions :

- it seems worthwhile to carry out a global evaluation of citrinin
levels in samples coming from various countries (those from China,
Japan, Korea, 
 could be supplied by M. Mandt, ALL OK, Germany, the
evaluations could be done in Toulouse and/or Utrecht).

- a proposal for a concerted action could be submitted to the DG XII
with the topic : "Prerequisites for Production and Application Approval
of Red-Mould Rice (Angkak) in Europe". Only European groups with good
working knowledge in biotechnology, toxicology and Monascus applications
would be invited to participate.

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