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Anthocyanin facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Anthocyanins have this basic chemical structure
Orange violet pansies
Anthocyanins give these pansies their dark purple pigment

Anthocyanin is a chemical compound which makes the red colour in plants. For example, red cabbage has anthocyanins which make it red.


Spectra Chlorophyll ab oenin (1)
Showing maldavin (an anthocyanin) absorbs in a different range to chlorophyll

In flowers, bright-reds and purples attract pollinators. In fruits, the colourful skins also attract the attention of animals, which may eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.

In photosynthetic tissues (such as leaves and sometimes stems), anthocyanins have been shown to act as a "sunscreen". They protect cells from high-light damage by absorbing blue-green and ultraviolet light. Ionizing radiation can damage DNA.

There are some other suggestions. The red colour of leaves may camouflage leaves from herbivores blind to red wavelengths. The pigment may signal bad taste, since anthocyanin synthesis often comes with unpalatable phenolic compounds.

Making these pigments is done by a series of enzymes that are stuck on cell membranes.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Antocianina para niños

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Anthocyanin Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.