INTRODUCTION Flavonoids represent a large class of secondary plant metabolites, of which anthocyaninsare the most conspicuous class, dueto the wide range of colors resulting from their synthesis. Anthocyanins are important to many diverse functions within plants. Synthesis of anthocyanins in petals is undoubtedly intended to attract pollitors, whereas anthocyanin synthesis in seeds and fruits may aid in seed dispersal. Anthocyanins and other flavonoids can also be important as feeding deterrents and as protection against damage from UV irradiation. The existence of such a diverse range of functions and types of anthocyanins raises questionsabout how these compounds are synthesized and how their synthesis is regulated. The study of the genetics of anthocyanin synthesis began last century with Mendelâs work on flower color in peas. Since that time, there have been periods of intensive study into the genetics and biochemistry of pigment production in a number of different species. In the early studies, genetic loci were correlated with easily observable color changes. After the structures of anthocyanins and other flavonoids were determined, it was possible to correlate single genes with particular structural alterations of anthocyanins or with the presence or absence of particular flavonoids. Mutations in anthocyanin genes have been
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