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Open Access Research article

Production of 3,4-dihydroxy L-phenylalanine by a newly isolated Aspergillus niger and parameter significance analysis by Plackett-Burman design

S Ali* and I Haq

Author Affiliations

Institute of Industrial Biotechnology (IIB), GC University Lahore, Lahore-54000, Pakistan

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BMC Biotechnology 2010, 10:86  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-10-86

Published: 10 December 2010



The amino acid derivative 3,4-dihydroxy L-phenylalanine (L-dopa) is gaining interest as a drug of choice for Parkinson's disease. Aspergillus oryzae is commonly used for L-dopa production; however, a slower growth rate and relatively lower tyrosinase activity of mycelia have led to an increasing interest in exploiting alternative fungal cultures. In the present investigation, we report on the microbiological transformation of L-tyrosine to L-dopa accomplished by a newly isolated filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger.


The culture A. niger (isolate GCBT-8) was propagated in 500 ml Erlenmeyer flasks and the pre-grown mycelia (48 h old) were used in the reaction mixture as a source of enzyme tyrosinase. Grinded mycelia gave 1.26 fold higher L-dopa production compared to the intact at 6% glucose (pH 5.5). The rate of L-tyrosine consumption was improved from 0.198 to 0.281 mg/ml. Among the various nitrogen sources, 1.5% peptone, 1% yeast extract and 0.2% ammonium chloride were optimized. The maximal L-dopa was produced (0.365 mg/ml) at 0.3% potassium dihydrogen phosphate with L-tyrosine consumption of 0.403 mg/ml.


Over ~73% yield was achieved (degree of freedom 3) when the process parameters were identified using 2k-Plackett-Burman experimental design. The results are highly significant (p ≤ 0.05) and mark the commercial utility (LSD 0.016) of the mould culture which is perhaps the first ever report on L-dopa production from A. niger.