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Plant Physiol. 1989 Nov;91(3):1040-3.

Mode of Action of the Massively Accumulated beta-Carotene of Dunaliella bardawil in Protecting the Alga against Damage by Excess Irradiation.

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National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Tel-Shikmona, P.O.B. 8030, Haifa 31080, Israel.


When grown under defined conditions Dunaliella bardawil accumulates a high concentration of beta-carotene, which is composed primarily of two isomers, all-trans and 9-cis beta-carotene. The high beta-carotene alga is substantially resistant to photoinhibition of photosynthetic oxygen evolution when compared with low beta-carotene D. bardawil or with Dunaliella salina which is incapable of accumulating beta-carotene. Protection against photoinhibition in the high beta-carotene D. bardawil is very strong when blue light is used as the photoinhibitory agent, intermediate with white light, and nonexistent with red light. These observations suggest that the massively accumulated beta-carotene in D. bardawil protects the alga against damage by high irradiation by screening through absorption of the blue region of the spectrum. Irradiation of D. bardawil by high intensity blue light results in the following temporal sequence of events: photoinhibition of oxygen evolution, photodestruction of 9-cis beta-carotene, photodestruction of all-trans beta-carotene, photodestruction of chlorophyll and cell death.

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