Effects of dietary carotenoid on the gut and the gonad of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus

Muki Shpigel, Susan C. Schlosser, Ami Ben-Amotz, Addison L. Lawrence, John M. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gonad colour, determined by accumulated carotenoids, is an important marketability factor in sea urchin products. In this study, dietary carotenoids were fed to Paracentrotus lividus in prepared diets to test their effects on the sea urchin's gonad colour. All diets had the same basic content of protein, lipid, carbohydrate, ash and energy. Four diets were enriched with: (I) all-trans β-carotene; (II) astaxanthin; (III) zeaxanthin/lutein/β-carotene; and (IV) capsanthin/zeaxanthin/lutein/cryptoxanthin/β-carotene. A fifth diet had Dunaliella bardawil algal powder containing all-trans and 9-cis β-carotene added, and a sixth one was a control diet with no added carotenoids. Sea urchins were fed the control diet (no pigments) for 4 weeks, then the six experimental diets for 8 weeks. Carotenoid concentration in the gut and gonad was determined by tri-dimensional photo-diode array high performance liquid chromatography. Four qualitative colour categories were established: brown, pale yellow, medium-orange, and mango-orange. Gonad development and test diameter increased equally in all diet treatments. Carotenoid profile and concentration in the gut were higher than in the gonad or in the feed. Total carotenoid concentration was four- to ten-fold greater in the gut than in the gonad, and carotenoid profile in the gut was different from that of the diet. Gut and gonad total carotenoids, β-carotene, and echinenone concentration were not dependent on total dietary carotenoid concentration. Total carotenoid and β-carotene concentration in the gut, and total carotenoid and echinenone concentration in the gonad were significantly dependent on dietary β-carotene concentration. The percentage of gonads with acceptable colour was positively correlated with dietary and gut β-carotene concentration. Carotenoids not normally contained in the diet of P. lividus (astaxanthin, capsanthin and capsorbin), did not accumulate in the gonad. Echinenone was found in all gut and gonad samples. Over 90% of the gonads from P. lividus fed Dunaliella algal powder diet developed the optimal mango-orange colour and this diet led to the greatest echinenone concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1269-1280
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was funded in part by the Texas–Israeli Exchange Fund Board, grant no. 845-4782 (AL and MS), the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, grant no. 894-0125-02 (MS), and the National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, under Grant NOAA NA06RG0142, project number A/EA-1 through the California Sea Grant College System (SM). We thank Wenger International, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri for supplying the prepared diet, our thanks to Dr. Angelo Colorni for his comments, Mrs. Mikhal Ben-Shaprut for her help in editing, and to Baruch Volkis for his HPLC analysis.


  • Aquaculture
  • Carotenoids
  • Gonad
  • Gut
  • Paracentrotus
  • Sea urchins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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