A colorless carotenoid

Phytoene is a colorless carotenoid with proven antioxidant and regenerative properties, produced for the very first time at 100% purity, by DEINOVE, from fermentation of plant sugars by the extremophile microorganism Deinococcus geothermalis.

Carotenoids are a family of organic compounds mainly produced by plants, algae and bacteria. They are well known for their antioxidant properties, meaning that they inhibit free radicals – a group of chemical entities frequently produced as by-products of the normal metabolism – which otherwise easily react with and damage other functional molecules within the living cell. While carotenoid uptake normally occurs through a balanced diet in humans (mainly in fruits and vegetables), external sources of these natural compounds are much valued to reduce general oxidative stress and limit physiological as well as pathological ageing.

 Daisuke Umeno et al. Microbiol. Mol. biol. Rev. 2005
Carotenoid biosynthesis pathway (from Daisuke Umeno et al. Microbiol. Mol. biol. Rev. 2005)

Within the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, phytoene is the first compound to be synthesized and the precursor of all other carotenoids. It is a colorless hydrophobic molecule that had never been extracted to an acceptable purity. Previous preparations of phytoene came from plants and contained a mix of carotenoids with varying degrees of stability and color.  

Exploring biological activities in its wide collection of microbial species, DEINOVE uncovered the potential of one of its species, Deinococcus geothermalis, in producing a powerful antioxidant activity which turned out to be due to the amounts of phytoene it synthesized. Deinococcus geothermalis is a UV-resistant extremophile bacterium, and one of many species for which DEINOVE has developed an arsenal of robust genetic engineering tools. Upon successive rounds of strain optimization, fermentation engineering and extraction protocol adjustments, DEINOVE was able to achieved for the very first time the bioproduction of pure phytoene. The compound is ultimately formulated in jojoba seed oil in which it is extremely stable.


Several rounds of genetic and fermentation engineering were performed to increase the yield of phytoene from Deinococcus geothermalis

As expected, DEINOVE’s purified phytoene has powerful antioxidant properties that are comparable to other known antioxidants, such as ß-carotene, lycopene, ascorbic palmitate. Importantly, DEINOVE’s comprehensive and innovative multi-dimensional activity testing process also uncovered new and unexpected properties of this compound. Phytoene can notably stimulate cell renewal to promote skin wound healing in vitro.

In vivo, ex vivo and clinical studies have further demonstrated the antioxidant activity of phytoene on skin explants, as well as its ability to enhance skin regeneration, elasticity and firmness. DEINOVE’s phytoene presents as an excellent compound to be used in cosmetics for its anti-aging properties.