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How do Plants use colour?

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Paul Sheffield

on 29 February 2016

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Transcript of How do Plants use colour?

How do Plants use colour?
Looking at colours
The Electromagnetic spectrum
Head of Group: Professor Beverley Glover
Director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Our area of interest is the evolution and development of floral traits that are important in attracting animal pollinators. By understanding how plants build traits that attract particular animals we aim to understand the diversification of the flowering plants.

We are particularly interested in petal characters such as colour, texture and insect-mimicking spots. We use molecular genetic, systematic and developmental techniques to address these problems, and our lab incorporates a bee behavioural facility to explore pollinator responses.

a) Which department does Beverley work in?
b) Why did she decide to work with plants?
c) How did she get started?
d) What does she research?
e) What does she enjoy about her research work?
You will explore some aspects of the science of pollination in: Flower power.
The colour of flowers is not as simple as you may think. The colour of different flowers is designed to attract specific pollinators. These do not necessarily have similar colour vision to humans. Although most flowers use pigments to reflect colours by absorbing different wavelengths of light, scientists have only just discovered that some use structural colour by making diffraction gratings in their epidermal cells.

In this lesson you will be able to find out more about how flowers use colour. You will explore some aspects of biophysics – understanding how physics is used in living systems.
Investigating Colours
copy the table into your booklets
using your spectrometer
draw a diagram of white light
draw a diagram of the spectra for each of the colours and colour combinations
Structural colours
Dr Peter Vukusic at Exeter University. He has investigated how butterflies and beetles can produce bright iridescent colours. For example, he used an electron microscope to reveal the detailed structure of the scales on butterfly wings and explained colour production such as the bright blues of the Morpho butterfly.
How do we see colour?
what is a pigment?
what is the visible spectrum?
Making rainbows
page 156-157
seeing colours
page 158-159
Full transcript