Comparative analysis of astaxanthin and its esters in the mutant E1 of Haematococcus pluvialis and other green algae by HPLC with a C30 column

Sci China C Life Sci. 2008 Dec;51(12):1108-15. doi: 10.1007/s11427-008-0146-1. Epub 2008 Dec 18.


A gradient reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method using a C30 column was developed for the simultaneous determination of astaxanthin, astaxanthin monoesters and astaxanthin diesters in the green algae Chlorococcum sp., Chlorella zofingiensis, Haematococcus pluvialis and the mutant E1, which was obtained from the mutagenesis of H. pluvialis by exposure to UV-irradiation and ethyl methanesulphonate (EMS) with subsequent screening using nicotine. The results showed that the contents of total astaxanthins including free astaxanthin and astaxanthin esters ranged from 1.4 to 30.9 mg/g dry biomass in these green algae. The lower total astaxanthin levels (< 2 mg/g dry biomass) were detected in the green algae Chlorococcum sp. and C. zofingiensis. The higher total astaxanthin levels (>16 mg/g dry biomass) were found in the green alga H. pluvialis and its mutant E1. It is notable that the mutant E1 is found to have considerably higher amounts of total astaxanthin (30.9 mg/g) as compared to the wild strain of H. pluvialis (16.1 mg/g). This indicates that UV-irradiation and EMS compound mutagenesis with subsequent screening using nicotine is an effective method for breeding of a high-producing astaxanthin strain of H. pluvialis. In addition, the green alga C. zofingiensis had a remarkably higher percentage of astaxanthin diesters (76.3% of total astaxanthins) and a remarkably lower percentage of astaxanthin monoesters (18.0% of total astaxanthins) in comparison with H. pluvialis (35.5% for diesters and 60.9% for monoesters), the mutant E1 (49.1% and 48.1%) and Chlorococcum sp. (18.0% and 58.6%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorophyta / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid* / instrumentation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid* / methods
  • Esters / chemistry*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Xanthophylls / chemistry


  • Esters
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine