Plant Responses to Light Independent of Photosynthesis: Qualification and Quantification of Photoreceptors and Light Dependent Morphological Traits Throughout Development Stages in a Nonphotosynthetic Plant

McCrackin, Sean
Photosynthesis, the ability of green plants to synthesize chemical energy directly from carbon dioxide and water using solar energy, is the foundation for survival of all living organisms on Earth. Photosynthesis depends on a number of pigments that detect and capture light energy. These pigments are responsible for the production of energy in plants, as such they play crucial roles in plant development, yet little is known about their role independent of photosynthesis. This study focused on how pigment production responds to differing light environments independent of photosynthesis in a natural occurring non-photosynthetic plant, Pterospora andromedea. Plants were grown in the field under conditions of light where one entire wavelength of light was eliminated (blue, green, red). Tissue samples were taken from these plants over developmental stages of growth and pigmentation analyzed using acetone extraction and a spectrophotometer. Both chlorophyll a and b were detected in varying amounts between individuals but with a consistent 1:2 ratio (a:b) among all individuals in the test and control groups. This indicates that light wavelength composition is not the only factor in pigment production. Effects of luminous flux need to be analyzed to eliminate it as a factor on plant pigmentation to establish overarching patterns.
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