Currently, 1178 natural carotenoids have been properly characterized and reported in the literature, which present a huge structural diversity and physicochemical properties. This number comprises a wide distribution of these biomolecules in approximately 700 source organisms including plants, bacteria, fungi, and algae. Besides having a wide applicability as natural dyes, some carotenoids such as β-carotene already have another well-established application such as provitamin A activity. However, due to the structural diversity of these molecules, there are still numerous biochemical and physiological functions to be associated with this class of compounds. Accordingly, these characteristics enable a wide applicability, what drives the global carotenoid market. Thus, with the primary objective of addressing aspects regarding to basic science and applied carotenoid technology, a comprehensive description of the biology, biochemistry, and chemistry of these compounds will be described in this chapter.
Part of the book: Progress in Carotenoid Research