Vitamin synthesis in plants: tocopherols and carotenoids

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2006;57:711-38. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.56.032604.144301.


Carotenoids and tocopherols are the two most abundant groups of lipid-soluble antioxidants in chloroplasts. In addition to their many functional roles in photosynthetic organisms, these compounds are also essential components of animal diets, including humans. During the past decade, a near complete set of genes required for the synthesis of both classes of compounds in photosynthetic tissues has been identified, primarily as a result of molecular genetic and biochemical genomics-based approaches in the model organisms Arabidopsis thaliana and Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Mutant analysis and transgenic studies in these and other systems have provided important insight into the regulation, activities, integration, and evolution of individual enzymes and are already providing a knowledge base for breeding and transgenic approaches to modify the types and levels of these important compounds in agricultural crops.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / biosynthesis*
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Tocopherols / metabolism*


  • Carotenoids
  • Tocopherols