why is green photosynthesis so dominant?

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    • #7652
      mattw
      Participant

      Red algae use phycoerythrin. Some other plants like red maples use what pigments?
      Why are plants that use red and yellow light mostly so dominant (cholrophyll a and b and carotenoids)? Why haven’t a number of photosynthetic pigments developed over Earth’s history? So why aren’t there many leaf colors –or are there? Purple Earth was so long ago. Why haven’t many photosynthetic pigments been chanced upon, since then. 😀

    • #72733
      mattw
      Participant

      woops –red and blue light!

    • #72735
      mith
      Participant
    • #72740
      James
      Participant

      Evolution doesn’t try new things to be quaint. Once a successful mechanism is established it will probably hang around.

    • #72781
      Darby
      Participant

      There’s a very good chance that of all the photosynthetic pigments that have evolved, the chlorophylls best use the range of frequencies available at and above the surface of the oceans. The other pigments work better at depth, where only some frequencies penetrate, or they get used as supplements to chlorophyll.

      Might there be some black pigment that absorbs all frequencies? Maybe, but it doesn’t appear to have evolved on Earth.

    • #72783
      kotoreru
      Participant

      The problem with a black pigment would be that the high extinction co-efficient it present to irradiance would be such that the delicate pigments would be, simply, damaged (basically – it soaks up all the light).

      Light on land is relatively predictable compared to the oceans. A cell in the oceans may go from 1600+ PFD (photon flux density) to <10PFD in a matter of minutes.
      The delicate little pigments necessary to make use of low level, attenuated, light at depth simply cannot ‘put up with’ high irradiance at the surface.

      My former teacher once referred to this as the ‘Goldilocks analogy’: not too bright, not too dark, but just right…

      (sorry – I’ve just had an exam on precisely this…)

    • #72812
      Darby
      Participant

      It seems like if that hypothesis was true, then nothing would have black pigments – or pigments that absorb particularly energetic frequencies, such as the purples or ultraviolet. As it is, chlorophyll absorbs a pretty wide range of frequencies, at a heavy peak of intensity.

    • #72819
      JDavidE
      Participant
      quote Darby:

      As it is, chlorophyll absorbs a pretty wide range of frequencies, at a heavy peak of intensity.

      Precisely. Although there are likely to be specialists, it is far more practical to use morphology or structure to moderate the available light.

      Low-light conditions producing large leaves (usually widely spaced).

      Intense light producing masses of leaves (to create a dapple effect) of small size.

    • #72841
      kotoreru
      Participant

      Not all photosynthetic matter is on land, people…

    • #72846
      Darby
      Participant

      Aquatic environments have been mentioned repeatedly in the thread, but the original question was about the predominant pigments, which are found near the ocean’s surface and in land plants.

      What exactly does "delicate" mean, applied to a molecule?

    • #72868
      kotoreru
      Participant

      You have a molecule that is ‘designed’ to mop up relatively high energy photons – chlorophyll et al are not simply molecules, and cells are chock full of repair mechanisms to sustain them.

      I think that constitutes delicate…

    • #74590
      Ultrashogun
      Participant

      I think the great abbundance of light near the waters surface and on dry land removes the need to absorb the highest energy light.

      Red and Brown Algea live in greater depths so their pigments are specialized to absorb the light that reaches those depths.

    • #75012
      Kevo214
      Participant

      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • #75022
      Darby
      Participant

      It isn’t just the color – you’d need a pigment (or set of pigments) that could absorb the frequencies that now reflect and then use those frequencies to feed electrons into photosynthesis. Not just a matter of getting a new color.

    • #76402
      Kevo214
      Participant

      ……

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