Astaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid pigments group. Generally, it is used in aquaculture industry as a necessary constituent of feeds for salmons, trouts and shrimps to attain their characteristic pink-red color and consumer acceptance. Moreover astaxanthin is characterized by a high antioxidant activity, the highest among known carotenoids and 100-500-times higer in compare to a-tocopherol. 95% astaxanthin preparations presented on worldwide market contain synthetically derived pigment – less stable than astaxanthin from natural sources. Limited scale of natural astaxanthin usage is associated with costs of its microbiological synthesis mainly with Haematococcus pluvialis microalge. A potential source of natural astaxanthin is Phaffia rhodozyma yeasts. As a possible industrial source of this pigment, they have some advantageous properties. First of all astaxanthin is synthesized as a principal carotenoid. Moreover cultivation of Phaffia rhodozyma yeasts is easier than microalge. The key limitation of employing these yeasts to microbiological synthesis of astaxanthin on industrial scale is a low yield of this pigment and costly extraction methods. The area and research results performed on Phaffia rhodozyma yeasts are presented in the paper. Moreover there are showed possibilities and some limitations in employing these yeasts to industrial production of astaxanthin. It is pointed to the most important agents involved in carotenogenesis process including astaxanthin synthese in Phaffia rhodozyma cells. The possibilities of astaxanthin overproducing strains obtaining are presented too.
Phaffia rhodozyma, astaxanthin, microbial production of carotenoids