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Phycobilins are found in abundance as components of the blue-green, red, and cryptomonad algae. They are colored, fluorescent, water-soluble pigment-protein complexes classified into three major groups according to color: the phy-coerythrins, which are red in color with a bright orange fluorescence, and the phycocyanins and allophycocyanins, which are both blue and fluorescent red. The range of color and the apparent stability of the pigments appear to make this group attractive as food colorants.
The structures for the two chromophores of the cyano-bilins, termed phycocyanobilin and phycoerythrobilin, are shown in Figure 1. Phycocyanins and allophycocyanins share the same chromophore, and the differences in color are due to the different protein groups. Figure 1 shows a bilin written in the conventional linear form and also in acyclic, possibly truer, form, showing its relationship to other pigments such as chlorophyll and haemoglobin. The
Figure 2. A red derivative of the monascin pigment. R represents an aliphatic radical and R' represents a compound of the formula HN-R, which represents an amino sugar, a polymer of an amino sugar, or an amino alcohol. Source: Ref. 2.
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