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J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2006; 16(6): 821-831

Published online June 28, 2006

Copyright © The Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology.

Secondary Carotenoid Accumulation in Haematococcus (Chlorophyceae):Biosynthesis, Regulation, and Biotechnology

Jin, Eonseon , Choul-Gyun Lee 1 and Jurgen E. W. Polle 2

Department of Life Science, College of Natural Science, Hanyang University, Seoul 133-791, Korea, 1Department of Biotechnology, Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, Inha University, Incheon 402-751, Korea, 2Department of Biology, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Ave 200NE, Brooklyn, NY 11210, U.S.A.

Abstract

Unicellular green algae of the genus Haematococcus have been studied extensively as model organisms for secondary carotenoid accumulation. Upon environmental stress, such as strong irradiance or nitrogen deficiency, unicellular green algae of the genus Haematococcus accumulate secondary carotenoids in vesicles in the cytosol. Because secondary carotenoid accumulation occurs only upon specific environmental stimuli, there is speculation about the regulation of the biosynthetic pathway specific for secondary carotenogenesis. Because the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway is located both in the chloroplast and the cytosol, communication between both cellular compartments must be considered. Recently, the induction and regulation of astaxanthin biosynthesis in microalgae received considerable attention because of the increasing use of this secondary carotenoid as a source of pigmentation for fish aquaculture, as a component in cancer prevention, and as a free-radical quencher. This review summarizes the biosynthesis and regulation of the pathway, as well as the biotechnology of astaxanthin production in Haematococcus.

Keywords: Haematococcus, astaxanthin, biosynthesis, regulation, biotechnology