On the Factors which Determine Massive beta-Carotene Accumulation in the Halotolerant Alga Dunaliella bardawil

Ben-Amotz, A.; Avron, M.

Plant Physiology 72(3): 593-597


ISSN/ISBN: 0032-0889
PMID: 16663050
DOI: 10.1104/pp.72.3.593
Accession: 049775630

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Dunaliella bardawil, a beta-carotene-accumulating halotolerant alga, has been analyzed for the effect of various growth conditions on its pigment content, and compared with Dunaliella salina, a beta-carotene nonaccumulating species. In D. bardawil, increasing light intensity and light period or inhibiting growth by various stress conditions such as nutrient deficiency or high salt concentration caused a decrease in the content of chlorophyll per cell and an increase in the amount of beta-carotene per cell. As a result, the beta-carotene-to-chlorophyll ratio increased from about 0.4 to 13 grams per gram and the alga changed its visual appearance from green to deep orange. D. salina grown similarly decreased in content of both chlorophyll and beta-carotene per cell and the culture turned from green to yellowish. Low chlorophyll-containing cells of D. bardawil or D. salina exhibit very high photosynthetic rates when expressed on a chlorophyll basis ( approximately 600 micromoles O(2) evolved per milligram chlorophyll per hour).Variation of pigment content in D. bardawil by a large variety of environmental agents has been correlated with the integral irradiance received by the algal culture during a division cycle. The higher the integral irradiance per division cycle, the lower the chlorophyll content per cell; the higher the beta-carotene content per cell, and therefore the higher the beta-carotene-to-chlorophyll ratio. The results are interpreted as indicating a protecting effect of beta-carotene against injury by high irradiance under conditions of impairment in chlorophyll content per cell.