SC 2014 Semilab: Why Do Leaves Change Their Color? Biochemistry and molecular biology of pigments and their genes.

by Slava Yurchenko

We all love the colors of autumn leaves. But why do they change their color? Why a maple leaf turns bright red? Where do the yellows and oranges come from? We all know about chlorophyll, a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. In this lab we will learn more about other pigments from leaves and flowers and isolate some of them using biochemical and molecular methods.

Tentative list of topics to be covered:

  • Photosynthesis. We will discuss photosynthesis and other processes taking place in plant leaves. Photosynthesis will be demonstrated and its rate will be compared between diffrent species using a very simple biochemical method.
  • Pigments. What are the pigments? How do they work? How can we separate them? Separation of pigments using method of Kraus. Paper chromatography.
  • Photosynthetic systems. Genes and proteins involved. Amplification of several genes involved in photosynthesis in plants and algae by Polymerase Chain Reaction.

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