The biosynthesis and metabolism of astaxanthin in coenobium alga Scenedesmus obliquus were investigated using a two-stage culture. The first stage was for the analysis of biosynthesis and accumulation of astaxanthin in alga cells which were cultured under induction conditions (incubation at 30 °C and illumination of 180 μmol m-2s-1) for 48 h. The composition of the secondary carotenoids in algal cells was analyzed and seven ketocarotenoids were identified. The results implied that S. obliquus synthesized astaxanthin from β-carotene through three possible pathways. In the second stage, the cultures were transferred to normal conditions (incubation at 25 °C and illumination of 80 μmol m-2s-1) for 72 h. Algal cells accumulated more chlorophyll and biosynthesis of secondary carotenoids terminated, the content of secondary carotenoids decreased from 59.48 to 6.57%. The results inferred that accumulation and metabolism of astaxanthin could be controlled by cultivated conditions which also could lead the mobilization of secondary carotenoids to support the algal cell growth. The results also implied that presumed conversions from astaxanthin to lutein or antheraxanthin could be modulated by culturing conditions. © 2008.
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