Abaxial Anthocyanin Layer in Leaves of Tropical Rain Forest Plants: Enhancer of Light Capture in Deep Shade

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The permanent pigmentation of the leaves of tropical rain forest herbs with anthocyanin has traditionally been viewed as a mechanism for enhancing transpiration by increased heat absorption. We report measurements to ?+0.1?0C on four Indo-mal- esian forest species polymorphic with respect to color. There were no detectable differences in temperature between cyanic and green leaves. In deeply shaded habitats, any temperature difference would arise from black-body infrared radiation which all leaves absorb and to which anthocyanins are transparent. Reflectance spectra of the lower leaf surfaces of these species re- vealed increased reflectance around 650-750 nm for cyanic leaves compared with green leaves of the same species. In all spe- cies anthocyanin was located in a single layer of cells immediately below the photosynthetic tissue. These observations provide empirical evidence that the cyanic layer can improve photosynthetic energy capture by back-scattering additional light through the photosynthetic tissue.

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