Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 97, Issue 2, pp 121–140 | Cite as

The biochemical basis for structural diversity in the carotenoids of chlorophototrophic bacteria

  • Julia A. Maresca
  • Joel E. Graham
  • Donald A. BryantEmail author
Review Paper


Ongoing work has led to the identification of most of the biochemical steps in carotenoid biosynthesis in chlorophototrophic bacteria. In carotenogenesis, a relatively small number of modifications leads to a great diversity of carotenoid structures. This review examines the individual steps in the pathway, discusses how each contributes to structural diversity among carotenoids, and summarizes recent progress in elucidating the biosynthetic pathways for carotenoids in chlorophototrophs.

Key words

Carotenoids Carotenogenesis Photosynthesis Lycopene cyclase Cyanobacteria Green sulfur bacteria 













Carotenoid isomerase (plants)


Dimethylallyl pyrophosphate






Farnesyl pyrophosphate


Geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate




Green sulfur bacteria










Isopentenyl diphosphate


2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate


Open reading frame


Phytoene desaturase (plants)




Purple sulfur bacteria














ζ-carotene desaturase (plants)



Research from the laboratory of Donald A. Bryant was generously supported by the US Dept. of Energy (DE-FG02-94ER20137) and National Science Foundation (MCB-0523100 and MCB-0519743).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia A. Maresca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joel E. Graham
    • 1
  • Donald A. Bryant
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Division of Biological EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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