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Any of a class of yellow, orange, red, and purple pigments that are widely distributed in nature. Carotenoids are generally fat-soluble unless they are complexed with proteins. In plants, carotenoids are usually located in quantity in the grana of chloroplasts in the form of carotenoprotein complexes. Carotenoprotein complexes give blue, green, purple, red, or other colors to crustaceans, echinoderms, nudibranch mollusks, and other invertebrate animals. Some coral coelenterates exhibit purple, pink, orange, or other colors due to carotenoids in the calcareous skeletal material. Cooked or denatured lobster, crab, and shrimp show the modified colors of their carotenoproteins.

The general structure of carotenoids is that of aliphatic and aliphatic-alicyclic polyenes, with a few aromatic-type polyenes. Most carotenoid pigments are tetraterpenes with a 40-carbon (C40) skeleton. More than 300 carotenoids of known structure are recognized, and the number is still on the rise.

There are several biochemical functions in which the role of carotenoids is well understood. These include carotenoids in the photosynthetic apparatus of green plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, where carotenoids function as a blue light-harvesting pigment (antenna or accessory pigment) for photosynthesis. Thus carotenoids make it possible for photosynthetic organisms more fully to utilize the solar energy in the visible spectral region. See Chlorophyll, Photosynthesis

Another function of carotenoids is to protect biological systems such as the photosynthetic apparatus from photodynamic damage. This is done by quenching the powerful photodynamic oxidizing agent, singlet oxygen, produced as an undesirable by-product of the exposure of pigmented organisms to light.

Perhaps the most important industrial application of carotenoids is in safe coloration of foods, as exemplified in the coloring and fortification of margarine and poultry feedstuff.


A class of labile, easily oxidizable, yellow, orange, red, or purple pigments that are widely distributed in plants and animals and are preferentially soluble in fats and fat solvents.
References in periodicals archive ?
Utilization of spirulina algae as a source of carotenoid pigment for blue gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus, Pallas).
Dietary carotenoid pigment supplementation influences hepatic lipid and mucopolysaccharide levels in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchusmykiss), Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology.
Feed carotenoid pigments from the acquisition, with their natural antioxidant properties, align with Novus's feed preservative and dietary antioxidant product families.
Thus, low ratios in this treatment may be related to the progressive decrease of carotenoid pigments (Table 1); this decrease could be a non-enzymatic first line of defense against the pro-oxidant activity of ROS.
They found excellent agreement in a comparison of the visibility of Haidinger's brushes in light of various wavelengths to the spectral absorption of xanthophylls, a yellow carotenoid pigment, which is similar to if not identical with, the macular pigment.
Grevsen, 2001 HPLC Determination of Chlorophyll and Carotenoid Pigments in Processed Green Pea Cultivars (Pisum sativum L) J.
The colour of autumn leaves depends on the quantities of carotenoid pigments, which produce golden colours, and anthocyanins, which make reds - but they require plenty of sunlight.
The fact is that salmon, both wild and farmed, are pink because they consume carotenoid pigments such as astaxanthin.
Many researchers have focused on orangey carotenoid pigments in both the plumage and the fleshy decorations of birds as possible signals of mate quality and sexiness.
Yellows and reds often arise from carotenoid pigments such as beta- carotene.
Xanthophylls are one of two classes of carotenoid pigments which are also beneficial as a natural pigment source and have many commercial applications.
The macula contains two carotenoid pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A.