Scientists crack riddle of why lobsters turn red in the pot
Tuesday 30 July 2002
A riddle that has perplexed cooks for years has finally been solved: scientists have explained why lobsters turn red when they are boiled.
Diners with a vegetarian conscience will be pleased to learn that the colour change has nothing to do with the lobsters being scorched .
The question was first posed by the Nobel prize-winning biologist George Wald in the 1940s. Four teams of British scientists from Imperial College, London, Manchester University, Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and Royal Holloway University of London, now claim to have found the answer after a seven-year study.
They identified the structure of beta-crustacyanin, a key part of shell protein. When it is cooked, its structure changes and bends the shape of a colour molecule called astaxanthin, which is normally bound to it. As astaxanthin is released from its bounds, it turns from blue to red, according to the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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