Does astaxanthin protect Haematococcus against light damage?

Lu Fan, Avigad Vonshak, Aliza Zarka, Sammy Boussiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The photoprotective function of the ketocarotenoid astaxanthin in Haematococcus was questioned. When exposed to high irradiance and/or nutritional stress, green Haematococcus cells turned red due to accumulation of an immense quantity of the red pigment astaxanthin. Our results demonstrate that: 1) The addition of diphenylamine, an inhibitor of astaxanthin biosynthesis, causes cell death under high light intensity: 2) Red cells are susceptible to high light stress to the same extent or even higher then green ones upon exposure to a very high light intensity (4000 μmol photon m-2 s-1); 3) Addition of 1O2 generators (methylene blue, rose bengal) under noninductive conditions (low light of 100 μmol photon m-2 s-1) induced astaxanthin accumulation. This can be reversed by an exogenous 1O2 quencher (histidine): 4) Histidine can prevent the accumulation of astaxanthin induced by phosphate starvation. We suggest that: 1) Astaxanthin is the result of the photoprotection process rather than the protective agent: 2) 1O2 is involved indirectly in astaxanthin accumulation process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalZeitschrift fur Naturforschung - Section C Journal of Biosciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Astaxanthin
  • Haematococcus
  • High light
  • Reactive oxygen species (ROS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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