Chemistry

The betalain group contains about 50 red pigments called betacyanins and 20 yellow pigments termed betaxanthins. The betacyanins are all derivatives of the diazoheptame-thin structure shown in Figure 1. The color is due to the resonating structures in Figure 2. If the R or R' group extends the resonance, the pigment is red as in betanin (Fig. 3). If the resonance is not extended, the pigment is yellow as in vulgaxanthin (Fig. 4). The betacyanins contain the aglycones, betanidin, isobetanidin, and the rarer forms neobetanidin and 2-decarboxybetanidin (Fig. 5). The aglycones are combined usually with glucose and much less frequently with the disaccharide sugars sophorose and rhamnose. The betacyanin molecule may also be acylated

CHoOH

CHoOH

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