Betalains

1. Definition

Betalains are immoniun derivatives of betalamic acid; their general formula (Figure 8.7 A) is based on the protonated 1,2,4,7,7-pentasubstituted 1,7-diazahep-tamethin system. Betalains were originally called caryophyllinenroth, rubenroth, and chromoalkaloids; their current name was introduced by Mabry and Dreiding, as cited in Reference 82.

Common names of betalains are assigned in relation to the plant from where they were first isolated: the betacyanins amaranthine-I from Amaranthus tricolor, betanin from Beta vulgaris, and gomphrenin-I from Gomphrena globosa; and the betaxanthins miraxanthin from Mirabilis jalapa flowers, vulgaxanthin-I and -II from the roots of red beet (B. vulgaris), and portulaxanthin from Portulaca grandiflora petals.83

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