Natural blues: structure meets function in plant natural products

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


Anthocyanins are water-soluble plant natural pigments producing the familiar colours of many fruits and flowers. They have enormous potential as natural food colourants from orange through red and purple to blue.
The butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) makes intensely blue-coloured flowers pigmented by highly decorated delphinium-based anthocyanins. Petals of this plant are used to make blue tea, popular in Asian countries, and anthocyanins from flowers, as a traditional food, represent a new source of blue natural colours. Anthocyanins of butterfly pea have remarkable stability in solution even at room temperature However, the anthocyanins in extracts represent a range of intermediates with different chemical decorations and different functionalities in terms of their colour, shade and stability in different environmental conditions.
The project will involve purifying the different anthocyanins from butterfly pea flowers, characterizing their functional properties and relating these to their structures to be defined by state-of-the-art natural product analyses; high resolution NMR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and circular dichroism


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2060722 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Alan Houghton