Discovery of a natural cyan blue: A unique food-sourced anthocyanin could replace synthetic brilliant blue

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  07 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 15, eabe7871
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe7871


The color of food is critical to the food and beverage industries, as it influences many properties beyond eye-pleasing visuals including flavor, safety, and nutritional value. Blue is one of the rarest colors in nature’s food palette—especially a cyan blue—giving scientists few sources for natural blue food colorants. Finding a natural cyan blue dye equivalent to FD&C Blue No. 1 remains an industry-wide challenge and the subject of several research programs worldwide. Computational simulations and large-array spectroscopic techniques were used to determine the 3D chemical structure, color expression, and stability of this previously uncharacterized cyan blue anthocyanin-based colorant. Synthetic biology and computational protein design tools were leveraged to develop an enzymatic transformation of red cabbage anthocyanins into the desired anthocyanin. More broadly, this research demonstrates the power of a multidisciplinary strategy to solve a long-standing challenge in the food industry.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances