Bacteria from the phylum Deinococcus-Thermus are known for their resistance to extreme stresses including radiation, oxidation, desiccation and high temperature. Cultured Deinococcus-Thermus bacteria are usually red or yellow pigmented because of their ability to synthesize carotenoids. Unique carotenoids found in these bacteria include deinoxanthin from Deinococcus radiodurans and thermozeaxanthins from Thermus thermophilus. Investigations of carotenogenesis will help to understand cellular stress resistance of Deinococcus-Thermus bacteria. Here, we discuss the recent progress toward identifying carotenoids, carotenoid biosynthetic enzymes and pathways in some species of Deinococcus-Thermus extremophiles. In addition, we also discuss the roles of carotenoids in these extreme bacteria.
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