Why Do Autumn Leaves Change Color?

This topic submitted by Natalie, Erin, Katherine, Becky Gordon, Ali Stout (gordonrj@miamioh.edu) at 3:16 pm on 9/10/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Smith

We wish to study the various chlorophyll levels in leaves during the Fall season. In doing this we will find out, through chromatography, why the leaves change the colors they do via pigmentation arrangements. We predict that the light changes in the Fall create a change in the chlorophyll-a and chlorophyll-b levels in leaves. We wish to test this idea through a lab that breaks down the lipid or protein based aspects of chlorophyll in the leaf, showing us the varying levels of different pigments of cartenoids and anthocyanins. We will do research on the chemicals required to perform such a lab: petroleum ether, acetone, isoprophyll alcohol, and aqueous sodium bicarbonate solution. We also plan to test various species of tree-life in order to see the differing possiblities in how light effects plants in the Fall. We expect this lab to run smoothly and it will not be too complicated for the others in the class for follow or complete, and we will try to use the most efficient lab process. Our dat-retrieving is limited by the fact that Fall does not last all semester, so we have to get started earlier than most groups.

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