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Internet says that the carotene is an important pigment for photosynthesis and UV-protection. That explains its accumulation in leaves. I suppose colored fruits are more appealing to animals, so that explains the fruits. But why roots? Why is carrot full of carotene? The only reason I can think of is human cultivation. Is there any specific reason carrots synthesize so much carotene? Are there other similar examples of so vividly colored roots?

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migrated from chemistry.stackexchange.com Feb 10 '17 at 9:24

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    $\begingroup$ Carrots are a vegetable selected by humans: "ancient" carrots were very different from "our" carrots. Their color was different, as well. Probably, the artificial selection for edible carrots (with different taste and characteristics) led to the "collateral" activation of the methabolic pathways which can explain the biosynthesis of so much carotene, but this is just an hypothesis :) $\endgroup$ – The_Vinz Feb 9 '17 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ We cannot really answer this; the only true answer is ‘because nature did so’. (Actually, it may also be ‘because humans bred carrots in that way’ but that answer would be just as unsourced). $\endgroup$ – Jan Feb 9 '17 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ They're uncommon in mainstream grocery stores (but starting to appear more and more), but one can find carrots of all sorts of colors out there. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Feb 9 '17 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ I have asked on Biology.se and it appears to be on topic there. I will therefore migrate it. It does, however, come with the advice that adding some references would be a good idea if there are any, and including what your attempts at answering the questions are. There would otherwise be a chance that it might gat closed as low effort. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Feb 10 '17 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ I mean... it's called "carot-ene". Carotene... carrot... it just makes sense. $\endgroup$ – xDaizu May 18 '17 at 10:18
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Carrot (Daucus carota) is a biannual plant that accumulates massive amounts of carotenoid pigments in the storage root.

The root of the carrot was not orange before domestication.

Although the root of carrot plants was white before domestication, intensive breeding generated the currently known carotenoid-rich varieties, including the widely popular orange carrots that accumulate very high levels of the pro-vitamin A carotenoids b-carotene and, to a lower extent, a-carotene.

As stated in the comments people did this to give a better taste to the roots. This is simply economical more beneficial because otherwise only the leaves of the carrot could be used for consumption (and not the roots which are a major part of the carrot), wasting this root would result in a lot of waste (and thus a lot of money waste) and because of an increase in carotene (and other compounds which contribute to the flavour) this would save money and provide more tastefull and appealing roots.

It is likely that wild carrot plants had uncolored roots of a bitter taste and a woody core but were initially cultivated because of their aromatic leaves and seeds.

So the only reason (as far as I can find) is that this is ineed because of cultivation by stimulating a flux in the direction of the carotenoid biosynthesis

I think this picture will explain it all:

enter image description here
(source)

I'm not sure how familiar you are with biology so I described this not in that much detail about the genes and expression of them etc. If you would like to know this I would highly recommend to read these articles:

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd swear an onion sneaked into that picture... $\endgroup$ – xDaizu May 18 '17 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ hahahah it's a parijse carrot @xDaizu $\endgroup$ – KingBoomie May 18 '17 at 15:06

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