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Photoisomerization of lycopene during carotenogenesis in mutant C-6D of Scenedesmus obliquus


Mutant C-6D of the unicellular green alga Scenedesmus obliquus has lost the ability to form cyclic carotenoids during heterotrophic growth in the dark. In the dark it accumulates acyclic intermediates, i.e. lycopene, neurosporene and ζ-carotene. The lycopene and two neurosporene forms were identified to be cis-isomers. Upon transfer to light, intermediates decrease and a normal set of carotenoids is synthesized. Inhibition of the cyclization reaction by nicotine reveals a lightinduced isomerization of cis-lycopene to trans-lycopene. Since the spectral characteristics of these two isomers differ drastically the isomerization can be followed in vivo by measuring a light-induced absorbance change. This absorbance change has its maximum at 520 nm and shows fast kinetics under high light intensities reaching a saturation level after about 2 min. Fluence-response curves for this absorbance change were performed for different wavelengths of actinic light. From the linear parts of these curves an action spectrum was caculated showing maxima at 670, 630 and 440 nm originating from chlorophyll and a maximum at shorter wavelengths (400–510 nm) which is interpreted to derive from ζ-carotene. A model for the light regulation of carotenogenesis in mutant C-6D is presented and the relation to the so-called 520-change observed in many plants is discussed.

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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. I wish to thank Professor H. Senger Fachbereich Biologie-Botanik, Universität Marburg, FRG for his continuous support of this work and his helpful discussions. I thank Ms K. Bölte for technical assistance and Ms H.-B. Böttner, Ms P. Schreiber and Mr. H. Becker for their help during the preparation of the manuscript.

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Humbeck, K. Photoisomerization of lycopene during carotenogenesis in mutant C-6D of Scenedesmus obliquus . Planta 182, 204–210 (1990).

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Key words

  • Carotenoid biosynthesis
  • Lycopene (photoisomerization, 520 change)
  • Mutant C-6D (Scenedesmus)
  • Photoisomerization (lycopene, 520 change)
  • Scenedesmus (mutant)