NANFA-- Anthocyanins; NOW I remember...

Bruce Stallsmith (
Sun, 21 Jan 2001 20:25:57 -0500

My earlier response to Bob Bock's query about red pigments in the red algae
(Rhodophyta) was correct in everything but the inclusion of anthocyanins as
typical of Rhodophyta. Anthocyanins are pigments found in plants, but only
in land plants. Following is an excerpt from The Carnivorous Plants site:

"Anthocyanins are members of a class of nearly universal, water-soluble,
terrestrial plant pigments that can be classified chemically as both
flavonoid and phenolic. They are found in most land plants, with the
exception of the cacti and the group containing the beet. They contribute
colors to flowers and other plant parts ranging from shades of red through
crimson and blue to purple, including yellow and colorless. (Every color but
green has been recorded).
"Anthocyanins apparently play a major role in two very different plant
processes: for one, attracting insects for the purpose of
pollination. Advantage is made of the fact that the pigments absorb strongly
in the UV (ultraviolet), visually attracting insects but with
light wavelengths that are invisible to humans. These pigments play a major
role in plant pollination - and in predation in carnivorous
plants, attracting insects into the trap apparatus. (Anthocyanins play a
very versatile role in pollination, especially in the Bromeliaceae.
Certain bromeliads turn a vivid red just before and during pollination but
soon revert to the original green color characteristic of the
photosynthesis pigment, chlorophyll. Anthocyanins are not a biochemical dead
end but rather a dynamic signalling device that can be switched on when
needed by the plant to assist in pollination. They are then degraded by
plant enzymes when no longer needed to attract
pollinators to flowers.)"

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL

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