Potential and limits of Raman spectroscopy for carotenoid detection in microorganisms: Implications for astrobiology

Jan Jehlička*, Howell G.M. Edwards, Kateřina Osterrothová, Julie Novotná, Linda Nedbalová, Jirí Kopecký, Ivan Němec, Aharon Oren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


In this paper, it is demonstrated how Raman spectroscopy can be used to detect different carotenoids as possible biomarkers in various groups of microorganisms. The question which arose from previous studies concerns the level of unambiguity of discriminating carotenoids using common Raman microspectrometers. A series of laboratory-grown microorganisms of different taxonomic affiliation was investigated, such as halophilic heterotrophic bacteria, cyanobacteria, the anoxygenic phototrophs, the non-halophilic heterotrophs as well as eukaryotes (Ochrophyta, Rhodophyta and Chlorophyta). The data presented show that Raman spectroscopy is a suitable tool to assess the presence of carotenoids of these organisms in cultures. Comparison is made with the high-performance liquid chromatography approach of analysing pigments in extracts. Direct measurements on cultures provide fast and reliable identification of the pigments. Some of the carotenoids studied are proposed as tracers for halophiles, in contrast with others which can be considered as biomarkers of other genera. The limits of application of Raman spectroscopy are discussed for a few caseswhere the current Raman spectroscopic approach does not allow discriminating structurally very similar carotenoids. The database reported can be used for applications in geobiology and exobiology for the detection of pigment signals in natural settings.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number0199
JournalPhilosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences
Issue number2030
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Algae
  • Bacteria
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Detecting carotenoids
  • High-performance liquid chromatography
  • Raman spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential and limits of Raman spectroscopy for carotenoid detection in microorganisms: Implications for astrobiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this