, Volume 224, Issue 5, pp 1028-1037

Tissue-specific accumulation of carotenoids in carrot roots

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Raman spectroscopy can be used for sensitive detection of carotenoids in living tissue and Raman mapping provides further information about their spatial distribution in the measured plant sample. In this work, the relative content and distribution of the main carrot (Daucus carota L.) root carotenoids, α-, β-carotene, lutein and lycopene were assessed using near-infrared Fourier transform Raman spectroscopy. The pigments were measured simultaneously in situ in root sections without any preliminary sample preparation. The Raman spectra obtained from carrots of different origin and root colour had intensive bands of carotenoids that could be assigned to β-carotene (1,520 cm−1), lycopene (1,510 cm−1) and α-carotene/lutein (1,527 cm−1). The Raman mapping technique revealed detailed information regarding the relative content and distribution of these carotenoids. The level of β-carotene was heterogeneous across root sections of orange, yellow, red and purple roots, and in the secondary phloem increased gradually from periderm towards the core, but declined fast in cells close to the vascular cambium. α-carotene/lutein were deposited in younger cells with a higher rate than β-carotene while lycopene in red carrots accumulated throughout the whole secondary phloem at the same level. The results indicate developmental regulation of carotenoid genes in carrot root and that Raman spectroscopy can supply essential information on carotenogenesis useful for molecular investigations on gene expression and regulation.