Microbial Production of Carotenoids other than β-Carotene

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The early discovery of carotenoids in living organisms is obviously attributable to the conspicuous appearance of these yellow, orange or red pigments. In 1831 Wackenroder prepared ‘carotene’ in crystalline form (Isler, 1971), whereas xanthophylls were first isolated from autumn leaves by Berzelius in 1837 (Isler, 1971). Following the main-classical chromatographic experiments of Tswett at the beginning of this century (Isler, 1971), it was soon realized that there existed a complex group of carotenoids in nature. The next decades indeed saw the isolation and structural elucidation of a large variety of new derivatives. More recently, the advent of modern spectrometric techniques and the refinement of separation methods have resulted in the ongoing discovery of more new structures, the determination of their absolute configurations and the establishment of routes for their partial or total synthesis. Concurrently, the biochemistry of carotenoids in plants and animals has gradually been unravelled (Goodwin, 1980, 1984).