Why does a lobster change colour when you cook it?

When you cook a lobster you will see a striking colour transformation from dark blue to orange-pink and until now, the cause for this has been subject to debate.  Although the presence of astaxanthin, a carotenoid, is known to be responsible for the change, a recent PCCP article has shed light on exactly how.

In an international collaboration, Dr. John Halliwell at the University of Manchester and his group, have found that astaxanthin is present as a negatively charged enolate ion in the uncooked blue lobster. On heating, the enolate bonds break down and release orange-pink astaxanthin causing the colour change. This discovery has been made as a result of the combined interdisciplinary expertise in physical organic, biological and theoretical chemistry as well as spectroscopy.

Interested to know more?

Read the full article in Chemistry World by William Bergius.

Or, take a look at the original Open Access research article:

On the origin and variation of colours in lobster carapace, Shamima Begum, Michele Cianci, Bo Durbeej, Olle Falklöf, Alfons Hädener, John R. Helliwell, Madeleine Helliwell, Andrew C. Regan and   C. Ian F. Watt, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C4CP06124A



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