Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First discovery of bilirubin in a flower announced

09.09.2010
Previously known as animal-only pigment, bilirubin now confirmed in Bird of Paradise flower

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.

Using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and HPLC/electrospray ionization–tandem mass spectrometry, the research team discovered bilirubin to be the primary aril pigment of Strelitzia reginae and found low concentrations of bilirubin in the plant's sepals. In mature aril tissue, bilirubin was present as granular bodies irregularly distributed throughout the cell. In mature sepal tissue, the researchers observed elongate structures that were previously identified as containing carotenoids.

"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!
Further information:
http://www.ashs.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>