Carotenoids, a subfamily of terpenoids, are yellowtored-colored pigments synthesized by plants, fungi, algae, and bacteria. They are ubiquitous in nature and take over crucial roles in many biological processes as for example photosynthesis, vision, and the quenching of free radicals and singlet oxygen. Due to their color and their potential beneficial effects on human health, carotenoids receive increasing attention. Carotenoids can be classified due to the length of their carbon backbone. Most carotenoids have a C40 backbone, but also C30 and C50 carotenoids are known. All carotenoids are derived fromisopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) as a common precursor. Pathways leading to IPP as well as metabolic engineering of IPP synthesis and C40 carotenoid production have been reviewed expertly elsewhere. Since C50 carotenoids are synthesized from the C40 carotenoid lycopene, we will summarize common strategies for optimizing lycopene production and we will focus our review on the characteristics, biosynthesis, glycosylation, and overproduction of C50 carotenoids.
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