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Trends Plant Sci. 2013 Jun;18(6):334-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Feb 8.

Biosynthesis of betalains: yellow and violet plant pigments.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular A, Unidad Docente de Biología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Regional Campus of International Excellence Campus Mare Nostrum, Universidad de Murcia, E-30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.


Betalains are the yellow and violet pigments that substitute anthocyanins in plants belonging to the order Caryophyllales. These pigments have attracted much attention because of their bioactivities, which range from an antioxidant capacity to the chemoprevention of cancer. However, the biosynthetic pathway of betalains remains under discussion; the main steps have been characterized in recent years, but multiple side reactions are possible. The key enzymes involved have only recently been described, providing clues about the regulation of betalain biosynthesis. In this review, we provide a comprehensive view of the biosynthetic scheme of betalains and discuss the different reactions that have been demonstrated experimentally or proposed in the literature.

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