A research team led by Cary Pirone from the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University has identified bilirubin in the popular Bird of Paradise plant. The breakthrough study, published in the September 2010 issue of the American Society for Horticultural Science's journal HortScience, provides new insights into color production in this iconic tropical plant.
Bilirubin has been discovered in the beautiful and iconic Bird of Paradise flower. Credit: Photo by David Lee
Previously thought to be an "animal-only" pigment, bilirubin is best known as the yellowish hue associated with bruises and jaundice sufferers. In 2009 the FIU researchers found bilirubin in the arils of Strelitzia nicolai, the white Bird of Paradise tree. The incredible discovery—that bilirubin exists in both plants and animals—put Pirone's research on the scientific map. The current study expands the original research and reveals new insights into the presence of animal pigment in flowers. Advisor David Lee credits Pirone for her persistence and scientific acumen. "Cary has made a remarkable discovery", he noted, adding that it was Pirone's persistence and curiosity that persuaded colleagues that she was on the right track.Strelitzia reginae Aiton, the Bird of Paradise plant, is known for its vibrant orange and blue inflorescences. Native to South Africa, it is widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical regions. Aside from the widely recognized shape of its flower, which resembles the head of a bird, Strelitzia reginae is also admired for its brilliant floral coloration. In contrast to its showy flowers, the fruit of the Bird of Paradise is pale and partially obscured by the bract during development. When it matures, however, the capsule breaks open to reveal intensely colored orange arillate seeds. Remarkably, the distinct aril color can remain unchanged for decades after the plant dies.
"This research is the first discovery of bilirubin in a flower; it verifies the presence of bilirubin in a plant species other than Strelitzia nicolai. With further research on the function, distribution, and synthesis of bilirubin in plants, the information may be useful for practical applications such as the manipulation of color through breeding and genetics", the researchers concluded.
The findings will likely have broad appeal among flower lovers, observed Lee. "When you discover something this significant about something this familiar (the Bird of Paradise flower), the story has power".
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/9/1411
Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences