Ayerim Hernández-Almanza 1, Julio Montañez 1, Guillermo Martínez 2, Alejandro Aguilar-Jiménez 3, Juan C. Contreras-Esquivel 1, Cristóbal N. Aguilar* 1
1 Food Research Department, School of Chemistry, Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila, Saltillo, 25280, Coahuila, Mexico
2 Laboratory of Biotechnology, School of Agronomy, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico
3 Biotechnology Center FEMSA, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, 64849, Nuevo León, Mexico
Carotenoids are an important group of natural and liposoluble pigments found in plants and microorganisms, displaying yellow, orange or red color. They act as membrane-protective antioxidants which efficiently scavenge 1O2. Lycopene is a red carotenoid with potential in alleviating chronic disease such as some types cancers and coronary heart disease, its production is from vegetable sources (e.g. tomatoes) and chemical synthesis; nonetheless, due to the increasing interest of this molecule, alternative methodologies to produce higher amounts have been developed. Scope and approach: This review discusses the biotechnological and economic impact of the microbial production and recovery of lycopene as an alternative bioprocess to obtain this carotenoid. Key findings and conclusions: Microbial production of lycopene can be promoted with the addition of inhibitors that prevent chain cyclization during the biosynthesis of b-carotene or genetic engineering; also, the optimization of culture medium and growth conditions of the microorganism can be performed. Actually, potential applications of lycopene imply that its biotechnological production has become increasingly necessary, and reports have described its production using metabolic engineering.