Raps, Shirley Department of Biological Sciences, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, New York.
Harborne, Jeffrey B. Department of Botany, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:August 2018
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- Photosynthetic pigments
- Nonphotosynthetic pigments
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A substance in a plant that imparts coloration. Plant pigments are important colored substances produced by plants. There are both photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic pigments in plants. Chiefly, the photosynthetic pigments are involved in light harvesting and energy transfer in photosynthesis. These pigments consist of the tetrapyrroles, which include chlorophylls and phycobilins, and the carotenoids. The light-absorbing groups (chromophores) of these molecules contain conjugated double bonds (alternating single and double bonds), enabling them to be effective photoreceptors. Their effectiveness in harvesting light for photosynthesis is shown in Fig. 1. The sum of the absorption spectra of the chlorophylls and the carotenoids, evident in the absorption spectrum of a green leaf, is equivalent to the action spectrum of photosynthesis (Fig. 1). See also: Carotenoids; Chlorophyll; Leaf; Light; Photoreception; Photosynthesis; Phycobilin; Pigmentation; Plant; Plant anatomy; Plant physiology
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