Anthocyanin Function in Vegetative Organs.- Role of Anthocyanins in Plant Defence.- Modifying Anthocyanin Production in Flowers.- Prevalence and Functions of Anthocyanins in Fruits.- Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in Plant Cell Cultures: A Potential Source of Natural Colourants.- Modification and Stabilization of Anthocyanins.- Flavonoid Biotransformations in Microorganisms.- Biosynthesis and Manipulation of Flavonoids in Forage Legumes.- Anthocyanins as Food Colorants.- Interactions Between Flavonoids that Benefit Human Health.
In recent years there has been an unprecedented expansion of knowledge about anthocyanins pigments. Indeed, the molecular genetic control of anthocyanins biosynthesis is now one of the best understood of all secondary metabolic pathways. There have also been substantial improvements in analytical technology that have led to the discovery of novel anthocyanin compounds. Armed with this knowledge and the tools for genetic engineering, plant breeders are now introducing vibrant new colors into horticultural crops.
The food industry has also benefited from the resurgence of interest in anthocyanins. A greater understanding of the chemistry of these pigments has led to improved methods for stabilizing the color of anthocyanins extracts, so that they are more useful as food colorings. Methods for the bulk production of anthocyanins from cell cultures have been optimized for this purpose.
Possible benefits to human health from the ingestion of anthocyanin-rich foods have also been a major feature of the recent scientific literature. Anthocyanins are remarkably potent antioxidants, and their ingestion has been postulated to stave off the effects of oxidative stress. These pigments, especially in conjunction with other flavonoids, have been associated with reductions in the incidence and severity of many other non-infectious diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. An industry is developing around anthocyanins as nutritional supplements.
Finally, there has been significant progress in our understanding of the benefits of anthocyanins to plants themselves. Originally considered an extravagance without a purpose, anthocyanins are now implicated in multifarious vital functions. These include the attraction of pollinators and frugivores, aposematic defense from herbivores, and protection from environmental stressors such as strong light, UV
The first to focus exclusively on the anthocyanins, for which there has been a burgeoning literature in recent years
Covers all aspects of the biosynthesis and function of anthocyanins in plants, involving disciplines ranging from chemistry to biotechnology to medicine. Thus, the scope of our book in relation to anthocyanins is far greater than that of its competitors
Contains the most up-to-date information on the health properties of red pigmented fruits and vegetables