Anthocyanins

What is Anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are also known as anthocyans. This term is derived from Greek words Anthos which means flower and Kyanous which means dark blue. Anthocyanins are a subgroup of flavonoids, therefore they are polyphenols, which is responsible for giving plants their distinctive colours. These pigments are soluble in water. They are found in the vacuolar sap of the epidermal tissues of fruits and flowers.

Properties of Anthocyanins

The pink, red, and purple colours of berries, red apples, cherries, red grapes, red lettuce, eggplant, onions or red cabbage. Along with carotenoids, they are responsible for autumn leaf colour. Also, anthocyanins attract animals when once the fruit is ready to eat or when a flower is ready for pollination. They are responsible for the colours of most of the vegetables, petals, cereals such as black rice, and fruits.

Classification of Anthocyanins

They can be classified mainly into two groups based on their chemical composition viz flavonoid and phenolics. Anthocyanins are almost universal, soluble in water, and terrestrial plant pigments. They are glycosides of polyhdroxy and polymethoxy derived from 2-phenylbenzopyrylium or flavylium salts. Approximately 600 different entities of anthocyanins are discovered.

To be specific, flavonoids are a group of secondary metabolites which are responsible for the widest colour range, in the number of seeds, leaves, fruits, and flowers. Other tissues belong to the class of phenylpropanoids. However, there are different substitution patterns that occur naturally plant species such as 5-methoxycyanthocyanidins, 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, 7-methoxycyanthocyanidins, and 6-hydroxyanthocyanidins.

Basic structure of Anthocyanins

Basic structure of Anthocyanin

Uses of Anthocyanins

  • It helps flowers to attract pollinators.
  • It acts as a sunscreen in photosynthetic tissues.
  • It acts as a powerful antioxi­dant.

Learn more about the different applications, structure, and properties of Anthocyanins from the expert faculties at BYJU’S – India’s largest education company.

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