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Tag: Melanins
  • Characterization of Pigmented Microbial Isolates for Use in Material Applications

    Abstract: Organisms (i.e., plants and microorganisms) contain pigments that allow them to adapt and thrive under stressful conditions, such as elevated ultraviolet radiation. The pigments elicit characteristic spectral responses when measured by active and passive sensors. This research study focused on characterizing the spectral response of three organisms and how they compared to background spectral signatures of a complex environment. Specifically, spectra were collected from a fungus, a plant, and two pigmented bacteria, one of which is an extremophile bacterium. The samples were measured using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and discriminated using chemometric means. A top-down examination of the spectral data revealed that organisms could be discriminated from one another through principal component analysis (PCA). Furthermore, there was a strong distinction between the plant and the pigmented microorganisms. Spectral differences resulting in samples with the highest variance from the natural background were identified using PCA loading plots. The outcome of this work is a spectral library of pigmented biological candidates for coatings applications.
  • Evaluating the Conductive Properties of Melanin-Producing Fungus, Curvularia lunata, after Copper Doping

    ABSTRACT:  Melanins are pigmented biomacromolecules found throughout all do-mains of life. Of melanins’ many unique properties, their malleable electrically conductive properties and their ability to chelate could allow them to serve as material for bioelectronics. Studies have shown that sheets or pellets of melanin conduct low levels of electricity; however, electrical conductance of melanin within a cellular context has not been thoroughly investigated. In addition, given the chelating properties of melanin, it is possible that introducing traditionally conductive metal ions could improve the conductivity. Therefore, this study investigated the conductive properties of melanized cells and how metal ions change these. We measured the conductivity of pulverized Curvularia lunata, a melanized filamentous fungi, with and without the addition of copper ions. We then compared the conductivity measurements of the fungus to chemically synthesized, commercially bought melanin. Our data showed that the conductivity of the melanized fungal biomass was an order of magnitude higher when grown in the presence of copper. However, it was two orders of magnitude less than that of synthetic melanin. Interestingly, conductance was measurable despite additional constituents in the pellet that may inhibit conductivity. Therefore, these data show promising results for using melanized cells to carry electrical signals.