Fruit bodies of Cordyceps militaris are widely used as functional food in China, Southeast Asia and North America. Cordyceps carotenoids are the important active components in the fruit bodies. However, chemical composition and property of the cordyceps carotenoids are still unknown. In this study, the novel carotenoids from C. militaris fruit bodies were separated and identified as xanthophylls and named as cordyxanthin-I (2, 3, 2′, 3′-tetradehydro-18, 16′, 17′, 18′-tetranor-ε, ε-carotene-5, 5′, 1′ -triol), cordyxanthin-II (2, 3, 2′, 3′-tetradehydro-18, 1′, 16′, 17′, 18′-pentanor-ε, ε-carotene-5, 5′, -diol), cordyxanthin-III (2, 3, 2′, 3′-tetradehydro-18, 17′, 18′-trinor-ε, ε-carotene-5, 5′, -diol) and cordyxanthin-IV (2, 3, 2′, 3′-tetradehydro-18, 18′-dinor-ε, ε-carotene-5, 5′, -diol). The four cordyxanthins proved to be highly water-soluble and could be directly quantified at 447nm with β-carotene as a standard. Compared with traditional cultivation, the contents of the four cordyxanthins could be significantly increased by treatment of pink light (2/3 of 620–630nm+1/3 of 450–460nm).
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.