Navigation Links
Why do autumn leaves bother to turn red?
Date:10/25/2007

Boulder, CO, USA - Soils may dictate the array of fall colors as much as the trees rooted in them, according to a forest survey out of North Carolina.

By taking careful stock and laboratory analyses of the autumn foliage of sweetgum and red maple trees along transects from floodplains to ridge-tops in a nature preserve in Charlotte, N.C., former University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate student Emily M. Habinck found that in places where the soil was relatively low in nitrogen and other essential elements, trees produced more red pigments known as anthocyanins.

Habinck's discovery supports a 2003 hypothesis put forward to explain why trees bother to make red pigments, by plant physiologist William Hoch of Montana State University, Bozeman. Hoch found that if he genetically blocked anthocyanin production in red-leafed plants, their leaves were unusually vulnerable to fall sunlight, and so sent less nutrients to the plant roots for winter storage.

For trees living in nutrient-poor soils, then, it makes sense to produce more anthocyanins, which protect the leaves longer, so as much nutrient as possible can be recovered from leaves before winter sets in. It is, after all, the process of recovering of nutrients from leaves which turns leaves from green to yellow, orange and sometimes anthocyanin-red.

The trees Habinck studied appear to be acting in accordance with Hoch's hypothesis. "It makes sense that anthocyanin production would have a function, because it requires energy expenditure," said Habinck. Put in economic terms, anthocyanins are an investment made by stressed trees in situations where they stand to gain from the extra recovery of nutrients from leaves. It's not about the showy color, but about survival.

"The rainbow of color we see in the fall is not just for our personal human enjoyment -- rather, it is the trees going on about their lives and trying to survive," said Habinck's advisor, Martha C. Eppes, a soil scientist and assistant professor of Earth sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Eppes will present the research at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Monday, 29 October, in Denver, CO.

The reason the soil-leaf color connection wasn't made long ago is partly because Hoch's hypothesis was needed to put it into perspective. It also might be that many plant researchers were missing the forest for the trees.

"I think that most of the work has been done by biologists looking at production of anthocyanins in trees themselves," said Eppes. They hadn't stepped back and looked at patterns of tree color.

Eppes wants to follow up Habinck's study with a wider analysis of satellite data showing tree color which can be compared to geological maps of the types of soils over large portions of land.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ann Cairns
acairns@geosociety.org
303-357-1056
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Protein behind autumn color splendor identified
2. In SAD patients, autumn antidepressants can prevent winter depression
3. Depression model leaves mice with molecular scar
4. Researchers discover way to transport environmental arsenic to plant leaves in new clean-up strategy
5. Researchers offer clues to how leaves patterns are formed
6. Ghost protein leaves fresh tracks in the cell
7. Einsteins tea leaves inspire new blood separation technique
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a ... authentication solutions, today announced that it has been ... Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation ... "Innovation has been a driving force ... program will allow us to innovate and develop ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. Richards and ... furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , Chief Executive Officer ... guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise as we move ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... -- Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator in ... the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified . ... that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises and ... 15 million users across the financial services industry, however ... suites and physical access represent a growing portion of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... upregulate any gene in its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the ... system with small RNA guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, ... Research, London (ICR) and University of ... SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), ... nine . The University of Leeds ... funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the testing ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give it exclusive ... a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , the ... sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and Jennifer Jaye ... GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach to achieving ...
Breaking Biology Technology: