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Plant leaves contain pigments that are used in photosynthesis and other cellular processes. Chlorophyll is the pigment primarily responsible for photosynthesis. It absorbs energy from sunlight and helps converts it into chemical energy during the light dependent reactions of photosynthesis. Other pigments are also present in leaves, called carotenoids. Carotenoids range in color from red to orange to yellow. They assist with photosynthesis and help protect structures in the leaf. During the growing season, the presence of chlorophyll can hide carotenoids. When chlorophyll breaks down and is not replaced during autumn, the carotenoid pigments become visible as the bright fall leaf colors. In this lab, the student will use green leaves of various tree species to compare the presence of chlorophyll and carotenoids based on species type. Paper chromatography is used to separate the pigments for identification.
Student compares leaf pigments of various tree species.
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