Isolation and characterization of a xanthophyll aberrant mutant of the green alga Nannochloropsis oculata.
Novel mutants (xan1 and xan2) of the unicellular green alga Nannochloropsis oculata are impaired in xanthophyll biosynthesis, thereby producing aberrant levels of xanthophylls. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis revealed that the xan1 and xan2 mutants have double the violaxanthin (V) content, but have significantly decreased lutein content in their cells compared to the wild type. Furthermore, these mutants contain two to three times more zeaxanthin than the wild type under low light (LL) growth conditions. However, this xanthophyll aberration in N. oculata did not affect the normal growth and the major cellular chemical composition of the xan1 strain. The xanthophyll pool size of the LL-grown mutant was 1.8-fold greater than that of the wild type. Under high light (HL) growth conditions, V content was substantially decreased in both the mutant and wild types because of the epoxidation state of the xanthophylls. Under LL growth conditions, the deepoxidation states of the xanthophyll pool sizes were 0.1 and 1.2 in the wild type and the mutant, respectively. However, the deepoxidation states of the xanthophyll pool sizes were 0.78 in the wild type and 0.87 in the mutant under HL growth conditions. We observed that the level of one of the commercially important xanthophylls, zeaxanthin, was higher in the mutant than in the wild type under all culture conditions. This mutant is discussed in terms of its commercial value and potential utilization by the algal biotechnology industry for the production of zeaxanthin.