The University of Arizona
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Plant Pigment Patterns

Quantitative Biology Colloquium

Plant Pigment Patterns
Series: Quantitative Biology Colloquium
Location: Hybrid: Math 402/Online
Presenter: Patrick Shipman, Department of Mathematics, Colorado State University

The beautiful pink, red, purple, and blue colors observed in flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems of the plant kingdom derive primarily from a class water-soluble cell pigments called anthocyanins.  These biologically active chemicals play diverse  roles in plant cell biology and ecology: Anthocyanins participate together with chlorophyll and carotenoids (lipid-soluble pigments responsible for yellow and orange colors) in the optical-chemical pathways of energy transduction in plant cells, act as photoprotectants, and produce patterns recognized by pollinators.   However,  at the pH of a typical plant cell vacuole, anthocyanins should be in a colorless form!  We propose that anthocyanin self-association is key to understanding how colors and patterns are observed in plants.  We introduce “mechanism-enabled population balance modeling” to understand the control of particle size distributions (in anthocyanin complexes, and more generally in nanoparticle formation), and  we will discuss the application of Bayesian statistical methods for parameter determination.  The session will open with some experiments, and you’ll see why you have never come across a blue rose.

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