1 June 2023

Chlorophyll is also called the blood of plants. This is a chemical that gives the green color pigment to plants, algae, and bacteria. Through it, photosynthesis occurs in the vegetation and its hue is produced because the chlorophylls absorb light that is then reflected in this hue. This is why it is necessary for plants to have good contribution of light, because in this way the necessary chlorophyll can be produced. They contain a molecule to be able to develop photosynthesis, which is the transformation of sunlight into energy. If you want to know how it works, in this article we will show you.

Concept and definition of chlorophyll in biology

It is a photosynthetic pigment that modifies light energy into chemical energy, through a process known as photosynthesis. The chlorophyll molecule is structured in two parts: a porphyrin ring and a large phytol chain. Chlorophyll is present in the thylakoid membranes and also in the plastids of eukaryotic cells and inserts into these membranes. through a side chain integrated by phytol associated with proteins and some pigments with which the photosystems are formed.

Chlorophyll brings benefits to the health of human beings, since it has oxygenating properties and also the possibility of eliminating heavy metals. It is also of great help for the regeneration of the intestinal flora and has anti-inflammatory and detoxifying uses. It can be obtained in liquid form or in certain vegetables such as lettuce, parsley, spinach, chard, arugula, watercress, cilantro, celery, asparagus, peppers, and seaweed.

Now, it was known in the year 1817, by two French chemists named Joseph Caventou and Pierre Pelletier. They developed solvent methods that helped to isolate not only chlorophyll, but also other substances of great importance in medicine, such as caffeine.

What is the function of chlorophyll?

It fulfills an important function called chlorophyll, in which it absorbs photons of light and can obtain the excitation of an electron. This transfers its energy and thus returns to its natural state or to a different pigment where the phenomenon is repeated. In this way, the excited electron attempts to decrease a molecule, completing the change from light energy to chemical energy. Giving in this way one of the main functions of photosynthesis.

Although it is normal for the chlorophyll pigmentation to be green, this can also occur in other shades. For example, in autumn the plants stop producing chlorophyll to be able to enter a state of rest in winter. So colors like yellow, brown, red and ocher prevail.

Now, there are theories that plants use these auxiliary pigments to their advantage, as is the case with carotenoids, which absorb green, bluish, and violet light and are reflected in orange, brown, and yellow tones. These carotenoids have the function capture solar energy, because in this way it dissolves the excess energy, that is, when a plant receives a lot of direct and strong sun, that excess can damage the leaves. That’s why that carotenoid pigment transforms that extra energy into waste heat.

What is chlorophyll used for in plants?

All organisms that carry out photosynthesis have chloroplasts, cellular organs that are in charge of the transformation of the light energy to chemical. Chloroplasts are located in the cytoplasm, specifically in the cell wall. And inside it, pigments with a colorless base accumulate, which make photosynthesis possible.

This is why the function of chlorophyll in plants is very important and vital, since solar energy is extracted. And thanks to photosynthesis, plants can convert carbon dioxide in combination with the vital liquid such as water, oxygen and carbohydrates. This, combined with various vitamins and minerals, causes plants to breathe, take food and in turn generate useful energy for humans.

Chlorophyll, especially type A, is found in large amounts in the plant cells that make up the leaf tissue of plants. Also, in eukaryotic cells there are organelles and plastids. In the chloroplast, there is a space called the stroma, where thylakoid is present. The thylakoid membrane is the one in charge of photosynthesis, since chlorophylls are found there, especially type A.

Now, if chlorophyll were not produced, photosynthesis could not take place and if it doesn’t, aerobic life forms would die out. In this way the greenhouse effect would be accelerated. And the global temperature would rise.

How does chlorophyll work?

Chlorophyll works in a very particular way, where it is synthesized in the chloroplast. And in its first phase, glutamic acid is converted to delta-aminolevulinic acid. From this moment, several phases are required so that they can be form the four rings containing tetrapyrroles. In this metabolic pathway, the presence of light is very important while the reaction that produces protoporphyrin IX occurs.

When a plant germinates, its leaves develop and receive sunlight. This makes the chloroplast form enzymes and thylakoids, which are sacs that have chlorophyll in their membrane. However, when the plant germinates in a place where light does not reach it, the enzymes cannot develop and the chloroplast is born as an etioplast. In this way, chlorophyll becomes protochlorophyll and photosynthesis is not generated.

On the other hand, it is important to determine the absorption peaks that occur in the spectrum. One occurs in the environment of blue light, which is 400-500Nm of wavelength. Another occurs in the red zone of the 600-700 Nm spectrum. Although the most nourished and similar to the green color is 500-600 Nm. That is why the green of the chlorophyll that plants have.

What is the relationship between chlorophyll and chloroplasts?

Chlorophyll is found in the chloroplasts of all plant cells. These chloroplasts are organelles that are located in the stroma of plant cells and in them are the thylakoids called grana, that is, that chlorophyll is found in the membranes of the thylakoids.

Therefore, their relationship lies in the fact that both are elements of plant cells and from there photosynthesis is possible. Now, although chlorophyll is found in almost all plant organisms that have chloroplasts, they can also be found in some prokaryotic organisms. That is to say, those that do not have chloroplastsas is the case with cyanobacteria and purple and green bacteria.

The role of chlorophyll within chloroplasts is of great importance. Due to its ability to sunlight absorption, it is possible that plants perform the chlorophyll function. In addition, the photosynthetic process could not be executed. If this molecule had not evolved so much. And thus acquire the capacity of energy conversion.

How many types of chlorophyll are there?

It must be borne in mind that there is not just one type of chlorophyll, but rather a whole group of pigments. Among them are:

  • Chlorophyll A: All plants and algae that can carry out photosynthesis contain this type of chlorophyll. This is found in chloroplasts, which, through their function of absorbing light, make it possible to change light energy into chemical energy.
  • Chlorophyll B: It works as a receptor of photon energy, to transfer it to chlorophyll A. This type is present in trees and algae.
  • Chlorophyll C: its function is to help chlorophyll A absorb solar energy, just like type B. The difference is that it only occurs at the beginning of the photosynthetic process. It is characterized by its brown and reddish tones, in fact, the Red Sea owes its color to the large number of organisms of this type. It is present in chloroplasts of brown algae, haptophytes, and diatoms.
  • Chlorophyll D: It has been studied in isolation in a red algae, although it was also found in a cyanobacterium distinguished as ‘acaryochloris marina’, capable of expanding light in the red spectrum.
  • Chlorophyll F: It was discovered from a cyanobacterium in 2010. It is present in stromatolites and absorbs red light more easily than any of the other types.

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