Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #316469

Title: Overview of plant pigments

item Chen, Chunxian

Submitted to: Pigments in Fruits and Vegetables: Genomics and Dietetics
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/8/2014
Publication Date: 4/9/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Chen, C. 2015. Overview of plant pigments. Pigments in Fruits and Vegetables: Genomics and Dietetics. p. 1-8.

Interpretive Summary: Colors are ubiquitous in the nature and generated by four major classes of biological pigments: chlorophylls, carotenoids, flavonoids and betalains. Chlorophylls are for green colors and photosynthesis, and the other three are for non-green colors and diverse functions. Many pigment-rich fruits and vegetables are consumed daily by human and may yield potentially important nutritional and medicinal benefits in our systems. Knowledge of these benefits will encourage people to increase daily consumption of these healthy foods, and understanding of their biosynthesis will facilitate breeder to select of pigment-rich cultivars.

Technical Abstract: Chlorophylls, carotenoids, flavonoids and betalains are four major classes of biological pigments produced in plants. Chlorophylls are the primary pigments responsible for plant green and photosynthesis. The other three are accessary pigments and secondary metabolites that yield non-green colors and possess much more diverse structures and functions in plants and more potential nutritional and medicinal benefits in the diet. This overview will briefly cover the basics of the three accessary pigments and hopefully lead to an active interest in these beneficial compounds and an increasing intake of pigment-rich fruits and vegetables.