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Complex Biochemistry and Biotechnological Production of Betalains

Dubravko Pavoković* and Marijana Krsnik-Rasol

Department of Molecular Biology, Division of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Horvatovac 102A, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia

Article history:

Received August 3, 2010
Accepted February 3, 2011

Key words:

antioxidants, betacyanins, betaxanthins, food colourants, pigments, reactors, red beet

Summary:
  

The demand for natural food colourants is increasing because of public awareness of their health benefits. Betalains are nitrogen-containing plant pigments whose colours range from red-violet betacyanins to yellow betaxanthins. They are used for colouring dairy products, meat and frozen desserts. Betalains have attracted additional interest because of their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. The main source of commercially produced betalains is red beet root, but alternative sources are found in plants from the Amaranthaceae and Cactaceae families. Another alternative source is plant cell culture in bioreactors, although optimization of pigment production seems necessary. In this paper we synthesize the results of recent studies on betalain biosynthesis, chemical properties, sources, biotechnology and applications.  


*Corresponding author:           dubravko@zg.biol.pmf.hr
                                               ++385 1 460 6268
                                               ++385 1 460 6286

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