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  • Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits. Its name is derived from the tomato's species classification, Solanum lycopersicum.
  • In plants, algae, and other photosynthetic organisms, lycopene is an important intermediate in the biosynthesis of many carotenoids, including beta carotene, which are responsible for pigmentation, photosynthesis, and photo-protection.
  •  Due to its strong color and non-toxicity, lycopene is a useful food coloring.


  • The antioxidant capabilities of lycopene have been found to be double that of betacarotene, which was regarded as an antioxidant without peer.
  • Lycopene is also the best quencher of a particular type of destructive free radical called singlet-oxygen1


  • Biotechnology can be used to effect the production of carotenoids by natural organisms. Algae and yeast strains have been developed by classical strain improvement methods to produce several different carotenoids.

  • One way to increase the production of carotenoids in biological systems is to use recombinant DNA techniques. The carotenoid biosynthetic pathway is especially amenable to manipulation by recombinant DNA techniques since all carotenoids share a common precursor.


  • Farmers also see the market price plummet during the late-season harvest. Tomato fields in the Sunshine State are typically picked three or more times, about five to seven days apart, as the fruit reaches maturity.
  • Prices are highest for the first pickings, but often dip as the market becomes saturated. When prices are too low to justify the cost of harvest labor, farmers stop picking, no matter how much fruit is left on the vine. Every year, they abandon at least 10% of the crop.


  • Researchers at Universities have produced tomato extract with supercritical CO2 leaving a concentrated mixture of several carotenoids, including lycopene.
  • Lycopene is the most predominant carotenoid in human plasma, present naturally in greater amounts than beta-carotene and other dietary carotenoids. It is an acyclic isomer of beta-carotene. In human plasma, Lycopene is present as an isomeric mixture, with 50% as cis isomers.


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