Natural pigments are largely distributed in the plant kingdom. They belong to diverse groups, with distinct biochemical pathways. Betalains with colours that range from yellow to red-violet can de divided into two main subgroups: betaxanthins and betacyanins. These types of pigments are confined into 13 families of the order Caryophyllales and in some genera of higher fungi (Amanita muscaria, Hygrocybe and Hygrophorus). The Amaranthaceae family includes diverse genera in which betalains are present: Alternanthera, Amaranthus, Beta, Chenopodium, Celosia and Gomphrena. The biosynthesis of betalains and their general biological properties were reviwed in the present work. In addition, the types of betalains present in some species of the aforementioned genera, their stability and production, as well as biological attributes, were reviewed.
Keywords: alternanthera; amaranthus; beta; betalains; celosia; chenopodium; gomphrena.