Virtually everyone has ever heard of a reference to chlorophyll when talking about plants. In fact, the use of the word is so widespread that we can even find chlorophyll-flavored gum on the market. However, do you know what exactly chlorophyll is and what is its function? Do you know where it is and how many types are there?
If you want to know where chlorophyll is, what are its most important characteristics, its types and much more, join us in this interesting AgroCorrn article about what chlorophyll is and its types .
What is chlorophyll – definition
Chlorophyll is actually a whole family of pigments, which are responsible for giving plants their characteristic green color. It is a biomolecule of vital importance in the scenario of life on our planet, since, without it, the photosynthesis that plants and other living beings carry out would not be possible. So where is chlorophyll found ? Well, this can be found in plants, algae and some types of bacteria .
Chlorophyll was not discovered until 1817, at the hands of chemists Pelletier and Caventou, both French. The first of them, Pelletier, was the one who designed and developed the methods that allowed the use of mild solvents to isolate both chlorophyll and many other substances of great importance in the medical industry, such as quinine and caffeine. The chlorophyll molecule is made up of hydrogen and carbon, plus a single magnesium atom in the center.
Its green color is due to the fact that chlorophylls absorb visible light in both blue and red wavelengths, reflecting green. Due to this, the pigment has an intense characteristically green tone, which it also confers on the organisms in which it is present. In other words, it can be said that the green color that we so commonly associate with nature is due to nothing more and nothing less than chlorophyll itself.
Most plants need warm temperatures and a good supply of sunlight in order to produce chlorophyll. For this reason, when the cold months arrive and the plants temporarily lose their ability to continue producing chlorophyll, they lose the pigment, exposing the other pigments that were already present in them, as well as others that can form with the changes that the leaves and stems experiment under certain circumstances. In this way, the ocher, orange and brown tones are those that dress the fall of the environments with deciduous vegetation. Learn more about it in this other post in which we explain why plant leaves are green .
What is chlorophyll for in plants – its function
Organisms capable of photosynthesis have chloroplasts , cellular organs that, thanks to the aforementioned chlorophyll, are capable of transforming light energy into chemical energy through the process called photosynthesis . These chloroplasts are located near the cell wall, in the cytoplasm. The pigments that allow photosynthesis are stored inside it, surrounded by a colorless base.
Thus, the function of chlorophyll in plants is as simple as it is vital: to extract energy from the sun. Thanks to the photosynthesis that chlorophyll enables, plants can transform the combination of water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates. That is, it allows plants to breathe and obtain useful energy.
Here you can learn more about it: Difference between photosynthesis and plant respiration .
Types of chlorophyll
As we have mentioned, there is not just one type of chlorophyll, since it is a family of pigments . Let’s see what the different types of chlorophyll are:
All organisms capable of photosynthesis, including algae and plants , contain this type of chlorophyll. It is present in chloroplasts, and thanks to its ability to absorb light in the length of the visible spectrum, it enables the transformation of light energy into chemical energy.
This type of chlorophyll also has a green coloration. Its function is to increase the light absorption capacity of chlorophyll A. Chlorophyll B is present in algae and trees .
This type of chlorophyll can be found in some categories of algae, especially in the group of dinoflagellates . Its function is similar to that of chlorophyll B, helping chlorophyll A to absorb sunlight, but it is only present in the initial period of the photosynthesis process. It is reddish brown in color and gives dinoflagellates their characteristic hue. The Red Sea , in fact, owes its color to the massive presence of these phytoplankton formations.
This type of chlorophyll has only been observed in an isolated and not constant way in a red algae, although later it was also found in the cyanobacterium Acaryochloris marina , capable of exploiting the light of the red spectrum. It was recently discovered that its non-repeated presence on red algae is due to the fact that it is not the algae itself that produces it, but a cyanobacterium that develops subject to them.
In 2010, Min Chen’s team published the discovery of a new type of chlorophyll, f. This was discovered in a cyanobacterium present in stromatolites in Australia, and it allows the absorption of red light more effectively than any of the other types.
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