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GENES AND ENZYMES OF CAROTENOID BIOSYNTHESIS IN PLANTS.

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1
Department of Microbiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742; e-mail: fc18@umail.umd.edu; eg37@umail.umd.edu

Abstract

Carotenoids are integral and essential components of the photosynthetic membranes in all plants. Within the past few years, genes encoding nearly all of the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of these indispensable pigments have been identified. This review focuses on recent findings as to the structure and function of these genes and the enzymes they encode. Three topics of current interest are also discussed: the source of isopentenyl pyrophosphate for carotenoid biosynthesis, the progress and possibilities of metabolic engineering of plants to alter carotenoid content and composition, and the compartmentation and association of the carotenogenic enzymes. A speculative schematic model of carotenogenic enzyme complexes is presented to help frame and provoke insightful questions leading to future experimentation.

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