Any of various organic compounds that occur as orange-yellow to red pigments in many plants and in animal tissue. In plant leaves, carotenes aid in the absorption of light energy by transferring the energy to chlorophyll and act as antioxidants protecting chlorophyll from damage by oxidation. In animals, carotenes are converted to vitamin A primarily in the liver. They are members of the carotenoid family of compounds and give plants such as carrots, pumpkins, and dandelions their characteristic color. Chemical formula: C40H56.