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.
A Journal of Biosciences: Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C (ZNC) is an international scientific journal for the emerging field of natural and natural-like products. ZNC publishes original research on the isolation, bio-chemical synthesis and bioactivities of natural products, their biochemistry, pharmacology, biotechnology, and biological activity and innovative developed computational methods for predicting their structure and/or function.