CAS number 13920-14-4 YesY
PubChem 9963391
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula C40H64
Molar mass 544.94 g mol−1
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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Phytoene (FY-toe-een) is a 40-carbon intermediate in the biosynthesis of carotenoids.[1] The synthesis of phytoene is the first committed step in the synthesis of carotenoids in plants. Phytoene is produced from two molecules of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) by the action of the enzyme phytoene synthase.[2] The two GGPP molecules are condensed together followed by removal of diphosphate and proton shift leading to the formation of phytoene.

Dietary phytoene and phytofluene are accumulated in human skin. the accumulation of these carotenoids may protect the skin by several mechanisms: acting as UV absorbers, as antioxidants, and as anti-inflammatory agents.[3][4]


Phytoene is a symmetric molecule containing three conjugated double bonds. Phytoene has a UV-Vis absorption spectrum typical for a triply conjugated system with its main absorption maximum in the UVB range at 286 nm and with ε1% of 915.


Analysis of several fruits and vegetables showed that phytoene and phytofluene are found in majority of fruits and vegetables.[5] In contrast to all other carotenoids, phytoene and phytofluene, the first carotenoid precursors in the biosynthetic pathway of other carotenoids absorb light in the UV range.


The structure of phytoene was established and proven by total synthesis, by the Basil Weedon group in 1966.[6]


7. Book chapter: Liki von Oppen-Bezalel, Aviv Shaish. Application of the Colorless Carotenoids, Phytoene, and Phytofluene in Cosmetics, Wellness, Nutrition, and Therapeutics. In The alga Dunaliella: Biodiversity, Physiology, Genomics & Biotechnology. Eds. Ami Ben-Amotz, Juergen Polle, and Subba Rao, released May 2009 by Science Publishers, Enfield, NH, USA (2009)

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