MadSci Network: Botany

Re: Is melanin in plants as well as animals?

Date: Wed Apr 15 10:31:22 2009
Posted By: Cynthia Galloway, Faculty Biology
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1235021179.Bt

This has certainly been an interesting question to research! The answer seemed to be all over the place all over the Internet. The answers range from yes, to no, to maybe. You can also say yes, but... or no, but...

However I'll try to give some explanation. Melanin in animals is sometimes compared to chlorophyll in plants since they are both able to absorb the sun's energy. Some people consider the brown and black pigments in plants to be plant melanins. The article by Sava, V. M., S.-M. Yang, et al. (2001). “Isolation and characterization of melanic pigments derived from tea and tea polyphenols.” Food Chemistry 73(2): 177-184., gives a good explanation of how to isolate and characterize these pigments from green tea. You might also find the websites listed below beneficial to answering your question. There is still some controversy over whether these pigments in plants are analogous to melanin in animals, however.,0,4566697.column

[Moderator's Note: We have at least one answer in our archives (1231186843.Bt) that addresses the issues of melanin and plant protection against UV damage. -- Steve Mack]

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