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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » Vegetable Crops Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377695

Research Project: Trait Discovery, Genetics, and Enhancement of Allium, Cucumis, and Daucus Germplasm

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Title: Carrot anthocyanins genetics and genomics: Status and perspectives to optimize its application for the food colorant industry

item IORIZZO, MASSIMO - North Carolina A&t State University
item CURABA, JULIEN - North Carolina A&t State University
item POTTORFF, MARTI - North Carolina A&t State University
item FERRUZZI, MARIO - North Carolina A&t State University
item Simon, Philipp
item CAVAGNARO, PABLO - University Of Cuyo

Submitted to: Genes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2020
Publication Date: 8/7/2020
Citation: Iorizzo, M., Curaba, J., Pottorff, M., Ferruzzi, M., Simon, P.W., Cavagnaro, P. 2020. Carrot anthocyanins genetics and genomics: Status and perspectives to optimize its application for the food colorant industry. Genes. 11(8). Article 906.

Interpretive Summary: Modern carrots are typically orange in color but purple and yellow were the first colors of carrots 1100 years ago. Some purple carrots continue to be grown today, primarily used as a natural food colorant in the form of their anthocyanin pigments. As a natural source of anthocyanins, carrot is among the most abundant compared to other plant sources like purple cabbage and sweet potato. Carrot anthocyanins are also among the most stable across a broad range of food acidity, processing and storage temperatures, and exposure to light. This review examines and summarizes recent literature that characterizes the chemical structure of carrot anthocyanins that account for their stability and yield and it is of interest to vegetable growers, food processors, natural pigment producers, chemists, food scientists, and plant molecular biologists.

Technical Abstract: Purple or black carrots (Daucus carota ssp. sativus var. atrorubens Alef) are characterized by their dark purple- to black-colored roots, owing their appearance to high anthocyanin concentrations. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use of black carrot anthocyanins as natural food dyes. Black carrot roots contain large quantities of mono-acylated anthocyanins, which impart a measure of heat-, light- and pH-stability, enhancing the color-stability of food products over their shelf-life. The genetic pathway controlling anthocyanin biosynthesis appears well conserved among land plants; however, different variants of anthocyanin-related genes between cultivars results in tissue-specific accumulations of purple pigments. Thus, broad genetic variations of anthocyanin profile, and tissue-specific distributions in carrot tissues and organs, can be observed, and the ratio of acylated to non-acylated anthocyanins varies significantly in the purple carrot germplasm. Additionally, anthocyanin synthesis can also be influenced by a wide range of external factors, such as abiotic stressors and/or chemical elicitors, directly affecting the anthocyanin yield and stability potential in food and beverage applications. In this review, we critically discuss the current knowledge on anthocyanin diversity, genetics and the molecular mechanisms controlling anthocyanin accumulation in carrots. We also provide a view of the current knowledge gaps and advancement needs as regards developing and applying innovative molecular tools to improve the yield, and stability of carrot anthocyanins for use as a natural food colorant.