Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Axel Schwekendiek


Betalains, such as those produced by pitayas, are water-soluble nitrogen-containing pigment molecules (Gandia-Herrero et al., 2005). In most families of the Caryophyllales, betalains replace anthocyanins, which are the pigment molecules found in all other families of flowering plants (Strack et al., 2001). Betalains accumulate in the flowers, fruits, and occasionally vegetative tissues of these plants (Strack et al., 2001). Depending on the structure of the molecule, betalains are classified as either betacyanins or betaxanthins. Betacyanins contribute to red-violet coloration, while betaxanthins contribute to the yellow-orange coloration found only in a limited number of plant species (Gandia-Herrero et al., 2005). The concentrations of various betacyanin and betaxanthin pigment molecules are ultimately responsible for the color of the plant tissue (Felker et al., 2008). Betalains can be utilized to produce naturally-derived food colorants (Han et al., 2009).

Year of Submission



Department of Biology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (49 pages)