Algae are known to be an excellent source of a variety of pigments. The water soluble phycobiliproteins present in red algae are one such pigment of importance. The drifted seaweeds are being used for extraction of pigments particularly the phycobiliproteins such as phycocyanin, allophycocyanin and phycoerythrin that are widely used as food colorants in the modern food industry.
Seaweeds such as Gracilaria corticata, Gracilaria edulis, Gracilaria crassa, Hypnea musiformis, Gelidium sp., Porteria sp. and Sargassum sp. are rich sources of phycoerythrin pigment, a pink coloured phycobiliprotein. Among these algae, Gracilaria (red form) and Sargassum (brown form) were found to contain significant quantity of phycoerythrin. Phycoerythrin pigment extracted from these algae were used as food colourants in puddings, ice-cream, cheese, butter, cool drinks etc. giving them an attractive colour. The spent biomass of seaweeds was utilized for ethanol production.