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Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):83-5. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

Extraction and analysis of carotenoids from the New Zealand sea urchin Evechinus chloroticus gonads.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Sea urchin gonad (roe) is a highly valued food in Japan and North America. Gonad price is strongly influenced by quality, with appearance, especially colour being a major determinant. Previous attempts to extract a carotenoid profile from the New Zealand sea urchin species Evechinus chloroticus have been challenging due to the large amount of lipid present in the gonad. A carotenoid extraction and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis method was developed to reduce lipid contamination by incorporating a saponification and lipid cold precipitation in the extraction procedure. This method enabled greater carotenoid purity and enhanced analysis by HPLC. Echinenone was found to be the main carotenoid present in all E. chloroticus gonads. Dark coloured gonads contained higher levels of fucoxanthin/fucoxanthinol, β-carotene and xanthophylls such as astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. This information on the modification and deposition of carotenoids will help in the development of diets to enhance gonad colour.

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