Astaxanthin accumulation in the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis

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Cells of the green microalga Haematococcus pluvialis were induced to accumulate the ketocarotenoid pigment, astaxanthin. This induction was achieved by the application of the following environmental conditions: light intensity (170 μmol m~-2s-1), phosphate starvation and salt stress (NaCl 0.8%). These conditions retarded cell growth as reflected by a decrease in cell division rate, but led to an increase in astaxanthin content per cell. Accumulation of astaxanthin required nitrogen and was associated with a change in the cell stage from biflagellate vegetative green cells to non-motile and large resting cells. It is suggested that environmental or nutritional stresses, which interfere with cell division, trigger the accumulation of astaxanthin. Indeed, when a specific inhibitor of cell division was applied, a massive accumulation of astaxanthin occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1082
Number of pages6
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1991


  • Astaxanthin
  • Cell division
  • Haematococcus
  • Light
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphate
  • Salinity
  • Vinblastine


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