Secondary Carotenoid Accumulation in Haematococcus (Chlorophyceae): Biosynthesis, Regulation, and Biotechnology

  • Jin Eon-Seon (Department of Life Science, College of Natural Science, Hanyang University) ;
  • Lee Choul-Gyun (Department of Biotechnology, Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Inha University) ;
  • Polle Jurgen E.W. (Department of Biology, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York)
  • Published : 2006.06.01


Unicellular green algae of the genus Haematococcus have been studied extensively as model organisms for secondary carotenoid accumulation. Upon environmental stress, such as strong irradiance or nitrogen deficiency, unicellular green algae of the genus Haematococcus accumulate secondary carotenoids in vesicles in the cytosol. Because secondary carotenoid accumulation occurs only upon specific environmental stimuli, there is speculation about the regulation of the biosynthetic pathway specific for secondary carotenogenesis. Because the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway is located both in the chloroplast and the cytosol, communication between both cellular compartments must be considered. Recently, the induction and regulation of astaxanthin biosynthesis in microalgae received considerable attention because of the increasing use of this secondary carotenoid as a source of pigmentation for fish aquaculture, as a component in cancer prevention, and as a free-radical quencher. This review summarizes the biosynthesis and regulation of the pathway, as well as the biotechnology of astaxanthin production in Haematococcus.


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