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Abstract Detail

The Scientific Research of Barry Tomlinson

Pirone, Cary L. [1], Johnson, Jodie V. [2], Quirke, Martin [3], Priestap, Horacio A. [1], Lee, David [4].

Bilirubin: A Pigment Novel to the Plant Kingdom.

Flowering plants produce yellow, orange and red colors to attract animals to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds, using products of three metabolic pathways. The carotenoid pathway produces a variety of colored pigments; the flavonoid pathway produces yellow flavonols, orange aurones and chalcones, and red anthocyanins. The betalain pathway, limited to a group of families in the Caryophyllales, produces pigments based on an indole nucleus. We have identified a tetrapyrrole molecule novel to the plant kingdom, bilirubin, as the primary pigment in the arils of Strelitzia nicolai Regel & Koern. (Strelitziaceae), a woody monocot tree endemic to the eastern coastal forests of South Africa. The tetrapyrrole pathway is constitutive in all land plants and includes products such as chlorophyll, heme and phytochromobolin (the chromophore for the phytochrome sensory pigment). This was the first evidence of bilirubin in the plant kingdom, and evidence of an additional biosynthetic pathway producing orange coloration in flowers and fruits. Recently, we identified bilirubin in the fruits of nine additional species from the diverse orders Zingiberales, Arecales, and Myrtales. We also identified bilirubin in the flowers of two Zingiberalean species. Here, we discuss our findings in a phylogenetic context and speculate on possible functions of this unique pigment in plants.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Florida International University, Biology, 11200 SW 8 St, OE 167, Miami, FL, 33199, USA
2 - University of Florida, Chemistry, PO Box 117200, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA
3 - Florida International University, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, FL, 33199, USA
4 - Florida International University, Deparment of Biological Sciences, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, Florida, 33199, USA


Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY7
Location: 552A/Convention Center
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: SY7006
Abstract ID:183

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