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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Lightborn, Gordon
item Griesbach, Robert
item Stommel, John

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2006
Publication Date: 7/24/2006
Citation: Lightbourn, G., Griesbach, R., Stommel, J.R. 2006. Black pigmentation in Capsicum - A biochemical and molecular account [abstract]. HortScience 41: 1027.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Color observed in plants is due to several pigments, in particular chloroplylls, carotenoids, flavonoids and betalains. Color is a key component that influences a consumer's perception of product quality. The many hues can be attributed to a number of biochemical factors, inclusive of pigment concentration, pigment combinations and their ratios, and vacuolar pH. Shades of violet to black pigmentation in pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) are attributed to anthocyanin accumulation. Color of unripe pepper fruit varies from green and yellow to ivory, through varying shades of violet and purple to nearly black. Whereas pepper fruit color is important for culinary product quality, foliar pigmentation is also an important aspect of ornamental variety appeal. Foliage and stem color may vary from green to varying shades of green/purple to nearly black. HPLC analysis of violet and black pepper fruit revealed a single anthocyanidin that was identified as delphinidin. Black fruit contained five-fold higher chlorophyll concentrations in comparison to violet fruit which contained relatively little chlorophyll. Differences in fruit pH were not statistically significant. Similar to fruit, black pepper leaf tissue contained delphinidin as the predominant anthocyanidin but in higher concentration relative to that found in fruit. The results demonstrate that high concentrations of delphinidin in combination with chlorophyll account for black pigmentation. Real-time PCR analysis of tissues that varied in pigmentation intensity due to varying anthocyanin concentration revealed functional but differentially expressed structural genes in the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway. Analysis of regulatory gene expression identified a MYB transcription factor which was differentially expressed in response to varying anthocyanin concentration.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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