Plant photosynthetic pigments: A guide
The multi-layered, multi-purpose capabilities of plants and their various components are still being understood by science and growers. Which makes growing plants an experience in trial and error, a constant learning curve that requires patience, expertise and an understanding of the various parts and functions of plants. It’s an exciting mystery that plant lovers, growers and scientists want to solve.
Why are they important?
Because plants are creatures of light and understanding how light influences their growth and quality can transform any grower’s product.
Plant photo pigments: What are they?
The three most well-known pigments are chlorophylls, carotenoids and anthocyanins, but there are also phytochromes, cryptochromes, xanthophyll, phytotropins, and UVR8. Each of these plant photo pigments performs a different role.
Chlorophylls and carotenes are responsible for photosynthesis, an essential function for any plant and one that can be managed by growers if they use the right types of grow lights for their specific conditions.
Chlorophylls and photosynthesis can be influenced intelligently and can play a significant role in improving quality and quantity of a crop. Phytochromes are responsible for the plant’s photomorphogenesis. This is the influence of light on the plant’s form and development and is responsible for cells, tissues and organs – it differs from photosynthesis in that this is more focused on then genetics of the plant but is reliant on light to achieve optimum results (Source: Science Direct).
Cryptochromes are responsible for the circadian and circannual rhythms of the plant, using blue light in its role of supporting plant growth and development. How cryptochromes are activated is still an unknown (source: Nature.com) but what is known is that their role is critical for plant health. Xanthophylls are responsible for managing light storage – they dissipate excess absorbed light energy (source: PNAS) – and they form part of the carotenoids group. Their role is to protect the plant from the potentially toxic impact of light.
Anthocyanins are the plant photo pigments that were, for a long time, considered to be pretty but pretty useless. The bright colours and spectacular displays made by anthocyanins are beautiful, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that science realised that these photo pigments did more than look nice, they played a role in minimising environmental stress and increasing resistance to pathogens. Phytotropins play a complex role in the creation and transport of specific hormones, while UVR8 is the powerful tool that helps plants to adapt their growth and their development to suit the light that surrounds them.
Every one of these plant photo pigments plays a critical role in the growth, development and lifecycle of plants. To ensure that your plants are provided with optimum light and energy, that they respond positively to your grow environment, work with Light Science Technologies to support you in achieving the correct light, heat and distance so your plants can photosynthesise and grow.