• Einar Skarstad Egeland
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 6)


Carotenoids are essential for photosynthesis, and are therefore present in all organisms traditionally considered as algae. Around 200 different carotenoids has been encountered in algae, and the study of carotenoids is often used to determine the distribution of algae in ocean water.

The chapter gives a full overview of the various algal pigment groups, from the major ones as green algae down to rare pigment combinations that might be known only from a single to a few species. Extensive references are included for further study, together with figures presenting the molecular structure of the characteristic carotenoids, making it possible for the reader to see the structural diversity of carotenoids found in mostly planktonic algae.

The distribution of carotenoids in algae is followed by a presentation of the biosynthesis of carotenoids. This starts with the biosynthetic steps from small molecules to give carotenes, carotenoids consisting of only carbon and hydrogen. Further, the biosynthetic routes to major oxygen-containing carotenoids are described, before the various biosynthetic routes are linked together to large overviews including even rare algal carotenoids. A brief presentation of stress-induced carotenoid synthesis and biosynthetic cycles are included.

An overview about the practical laboratory work for the isolation and analyses of carotenoids follows. First, common precautions for work with carotenoids is presented, important as carotenoids are unstable compounds and will easily degrade during laboratory handling. Several practical tips are included, based on the author’s long experience in the field. The chapter gives recommendations for sample storage, extraction of pigments from the cells and the separation of the various carotenoids by chromatography. After separation, spectroscopic techniques are described for identification of the isolated carotenoids. The practical laboratory work ends with a presentation of common degradation products often observed when analysing carotenoids, compounds that may be misidentified as natural carotenoids.

The chapter ends with examples of uses for algal carotenoids followed by a brief presentation of large-scale production, also here with references for further studies.


Carotenoids Pigments Carotenoid distribution Carotenoid biosynthesis Chemical analysis Secondary carotenoids Chromatography Spectroscopy Carotenoid degradation products 



The library at University of Nordland gets my sincere thanks for once again have provided several hundreds article copies and also some books loaned from other libraries. Always promptly, always with a smile, never questioning why I need it or why I need all that much. Luckily for you, this time, most of the literature needed was available through electronic access, and not so many had to be ordered manually.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biosciences and AquacultureUniversity of NordlandBodøNorway

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