Carotenoids are one of the most diverse classes of natural compounds. Plant carotenoids are composed of a C40 isoprenoid skeleton with or without epoxy, hydroxy and keto groups. They have fundamental roles in human nutrition as antioxidants and vitamin A precursors and their consumption is increasingly associated with protection from a range of diseases. They are also used commercially as safe food, feed and cosmetic colorants and they protect plants from photooxidative stress. In the past six years many metabolic engineering efforts have been undertaken in plants aiming to improve the nutritional value of staple crops, to enable the use of plants as ‘cell factories’ for producing specialty carotenoids and to improve plant resistance to abiotic stress.
Trends in Biotechnology (2008) 26 (3) 139-145 [doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2007.12.003]