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  • The term carotene is used for several related unsaturated hydrocarbon substances having the formula C₄₀Hₓ, which are synthesized by plants but cannot be made by animals. Carotene is an orange photosynthetic pigment important for photosynthesis. Carotenes are all coloured to the human eye. They are responsible for the orange colour of the carrot, for which this class of chemicals is named, and for the colours of many other fruits and vegetables. Carotenes are also responsible for the orange colours in dry foliage. They also impart the yellow coloration to milk-fat and butter. Omnivorous animal species which are relatively poor converters of coloured dietary carotenoids to colourless retinoids have yellowed-coloured body fat, as a result of the carotenoid retention from the vegetable portion of their diet. The typical yellow-coloured fat of humans and chickens is a result of fat storage of carotenes from their diets. Carotenes contribute to photosynthesis by transmitting the light energy they absorb to chlorophyll. They also protect plant tissues by helping to absorb the energy from singlet oxygen, an excited form of the oxygen molecule O₂ which is formed during photosynthesis.

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