The colors of food have always been a value of quality as it plays an important role in enjoyment of foodstuffs. Most food products during processing, looses its natural color and the manufacturers are required to provide a color to the foodstuff so as to make it more appealing. With the increasing concern about food safety and quality, natural pigments like anthocyanins are getting more attention. The need to avoid the use of synthetic colorants and move towards the use of natural colorants has increased research in this field during the past decade. In fact, the molecular genetic control of anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway is now one of the best understood of all secondary metabolic pathways in plants. Engineering the biosynthetic pathway for augmented production of anthocyanins in controlled in vitro conditions is seen as one of the exciting spin-offs in the technology. For this purpose, the structural genes responsible for catalyzing various steps of the pathway as well as the regulatory genes that control the expression of the structural genes have been engineered to provide different types and combinations of anthocyanins with novel colors. The elicitation of anthocyanin pigments in plant cell culture through illumination, precursor feeding, elicitor optimization and Agrobacterium mediated transformation are seen as prominent feasible techniques for augmented production of anthocyanins. An effort to combine plant cell culture and functional genomics is a substantial initiative in this direction that might lead to its application as a potential natural food colorant. This chapter aims at providing comprehensive information on the topic of its importance to students and researchers of biotechnology and biochemistry. This chapter will highlight the studies that have been carried out both at cell culture and molecular level to enhance anthocyanin production.
Keywords: anthocyanin, antioxidant, food colorant, elicitation, regulation, metabolites