Review Article

Plant Biotechnology Reports

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 37-48

First online:

Diversity in plant red pigments: anthocyanins and betacyanins

  • Masaaki SakutaAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Ochanomizu University Email author 

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Plant pigments are of interest for research into questions of basic biology as well as for purposes of applied biology. Red colors in flowers are mainly produced by two types of pigments: anthocyanins and betacyanins. Though anthocyanins are broadly distributed among plants, betacyanins have replaced anthocyanins in the Caryophyllales. Red plant pigments are good indicator metabolites for evolutionary studies of plant diversity as well as for metabolic studies of plant cell growth and differentiation. In this review, we focus on the biosynthesis of anthocyanins and betacyanins and the possible mechanisms underlying the mutual exclusion of betalains and anthocyanins based on the regulation of the biosynthesis of these red pigments.


Anthocyanins Betacyanins Molecular mechanism of biosynthesis Secondary metabolism Evolution of metabolism