fall colors

Nancy Kirkpatrick nkirkpatrick at gw.lssu.edu
Tue Oct 24 15:30:20 EST 2000

I just got a copy of the "Minnesota Conservation Volunteer" for Sept/Oct. and it has a little article in it on fall colors by Meg Hanisch.  Here is what she has to say concerning anthocyanins: "The reds and purples of some autumn leaves come from another group of pigments called anthocyanins.  Unlike carotenoids, they are not always present in the leaf.  Instead, they develop in the cells in the late summer, as a result of complex interactions.  No longer needed for photosynthesis, phosphate moves out of the leaf and into the twig.  This drop in the level of phosphate changes the breakdown of sugar in bright light so that anthocyanins form.  The brighter the light, the greater the production of anthocyanins and the more brilliant the color."

Nancy S. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor 
Biology Department
Lake Superior State University
Sault Ste. Marie, MI  49783
(906) 635-2894 FAX: (906) 635-2266
nkirkpatrick at gw.lssu.edu

>>> "Grant R. Cramer" <cramer at med.unr.edu> 10/24 1:52 PM >>>
Hi Folks,
Part of my class today will concern fall colors. I always learned that these
pigments were already present but masked by chlorophyll. Upon degradation of
chlorophyll these pigments can be seen. I recently read a report in the
local newspaper that the red pigments (anthocyanins?) are actually
synthesized in the fall and the brown pigments (in oaks) are waste products.
Does anybody know what the latest info is on this timely topic?
Grant R. Cramer
Associate Professor
Mail Stop 200
Department of Biochemistry
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557
phone: (775) 784-4204
fax: (775) 784-1650
email: cramer at unr.edu 
web page: http://www.ag.unr.edu/cramer/ 



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