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Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 106, Issue 1–2, pp 155–177 | Cite as

Secondary ketocarotenoid astaxanthin biosynthesis in algae: a multifunctional response to stress

  • Yves Lemoine
  • Benoît SchoefsEmail author
Review

Abstract

Under stressful environments, many green algae such as Haematococcus pluvialis accumulate secondary ketocarotenoids such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. The carotenogenesis, responsible for natural phenomena such as red snows, generally accompanies larger metabolic changes as well as morphological modifications, i.e., the conversion of the green flagellated macrozoids into large red cysts. Astaxanthin accumulation constitutes a convenient way to store energy and carbon, which will be used for further synthesis under less stressful conditions. Besides this, the presence of high amount of astaxanthin enhances the cell resistance to oxidative stress generated by unfavorable environmental conditions including excess light, UV-B irradiation, and nutrition stress and, therefore, confers a higher survival capacity to the cells. This better resistance results from the quenching of oxygen atoms for the synthesis itself as well as from the antioxidant properties of the astaxanthin molecules. Therefore, astaxanthin synthesis corresponds to a multifunctional response to stress. In this contribution, the various biochemical, genetic, and molecular data related to the biosynthesis of ketocarotenoids by Haematococcus pluvialis and other taxa are reviewed and compared. A tentative regulatory model of the biochemical network driving astaxanthin production is proposed.

Keywords

Astaxanthin Cytochrome P450 hydroxylase Encystment Haematococcus pluvialis Stress 

Abbreviations

BKT, CRTO

4,4′-Ketolase

Car

Carotenoid

Chl

Chlorophyll

CHX

Cycloheximide

CHY-b, CRTR-b, CRTZ

3,3′-Hydroxylase

CPTA

2-(4-Chlorophenylthio)-triethylamine

CRTL-b

Lycopene β-cyclase

DMAPP

Dimethylallyl pyrophosphate

DPA

Diphenylamine

GGPP

Geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate

HL

High-light

IPP

Isopentenylpyrophosphate

IPI

Isopentenylpyrophosphate isomerase

LHC

Light-harvesting complexes

MGDG

Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol

NF

Norflurazon

PAGE

Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis

PDS

Phytoene desaturase

PQ

Plastoquinone

PS

Photosystem

PSY

Phytoene synthase

PTOX

Plastid terminal oxidase of chlororespiration

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

SC

Secondary carotenoid

SOD

Superoxide dismutase

TAG

Triacylglycerol

ZDS

ζ-Carotene desaturase

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Lille Nord de France, UMR 8187 LOG CNRS/University Lille 1Villeneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance
  2. 2.Plante-Microbe-Environnement, UMR CNRS/INRA/University of BurgundyDijonFrance

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