Fluorescent pigments: New perspectives in betalain research and applications

Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular A, Unidad Docente de Biología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de Murcia, E-30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain
Food Research International 01/2005; 38:879-884. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2005.01.012

ABSTRACT Betaxanthins are natural water-soluble yellow pigments found in plants of the order Caryophyllales. The fluorescence of five of these compounds, derived from the amines, tyramine and dopamine, and from the amino acids, methionine sulphoxide, glutamic acid and aspartic acid, was detected and characterized for the first time. Fluorescence in betacyanins, the violet counterpartner of betaxanthins was not detected.We report here not only the fluorescent properties of the betaxanthins but also a new method for determining the pigment content in complex samples by HPLC using a fluorescence detector for the first time. The method was successfully applied to the analysis of the betaxanthins present in Mirabilis jalapa (Nyctaginaceae) flowers. Our findings concerning fluorescence may open up new possibilities for the detection of betaxanthins, improve existent HPLC protocols and represent a new field for biochemical investigations.

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