Metabolic engineering of the astaxanthin-biosynthetic pathway of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous

H. Visser, A.J.J. van Ooyen, J.C. Verdoes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


This review describes the different approaches that have been used to manipulate and improve carotenoid production in Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous. The red yeast X dendrorhous (formerly known as Phaffia rhodozyma) is one of the microbiological production systems for natural astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is applied in food and feed industry and can be used as a nutraceutical because of its strong antioxidant properties. However, the production levels of astaxanthin in wild-type isolates are rather low. To increase the astaxanthin content in X. dendrorhous, cultivation protocols have been optimized and astaxanthin-hyperproducing mutants have been obtained by screening of classically mutagenized X. dendrorhous strains. The knowledge about the regulation of carotenogenesis in X dendrorhous is still limited in comparison to that in other carotenogenic fungi. The X dendrorhous carotenogenic genes have been cloned and a X dendrorhous transformation system has been developed. These tools allowed the directed genetic modification of the astaxanthin pathway in X. dendrorhous. The crt YB gene, encoding the bifunctional enzyme phytoene synthase/lycopene cyclase, was inactivated by insertion of a vector by single and double cross-over events, indicating that it is possible to generate specific carotenoid-biosynthetic mutants. Additionally, overexpression of crt YB resulted in the accumulation of P-carotene and echinone, which indicates that the oxygenation reactions are rate-limiting in these recombinant strains. Furthermore, overexpression of the phytoene desaturase-encoding gene (crt1) showed an increase in monocyclic carotenoids such as torulene and HDCO (3-hydroxy-3',4'-didehydro-beta,-psi-carotene-4-one) and a decrease in bicyclic carotenoids such as echinone, P-carotene and astaxanthin. (C) 2003 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-231
JournalFEMS Yeast Research
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • yeast phaffia-rhodozyma
  • isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase
  • carotenoid biosynthesis
  • escherichia-coli
  • neurospora-crassa
  • blue-light
  • saccharomyces-cerevisiae
  • mucor-circinelloides
  • phytoene synthase
  • isoprenoid biosynthesis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolic engineering of the astaxanthin-biosynthetic pathway of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this