Anthocyanins in Leaves: Distribution, Phylogeny and Development

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Red pigments, products of different metabolic pathways, occur in terrestrial plants. The flavonoid pathway contributes the greatest diversity, culminating in the prevalence of anthocyanins in the angiosperms. Anthocyanins are produced in flowers and fruits, and also in vegetative organs, but have been poorly researched in the latter. Anthocyanins are commonly produced in:

1. rapidly expanding leaves of tropical plants;

2. senescing leaves of temperate plants;

3. undersurfaces of floating leaves of aquatic plants;

4. abaxial surfaces of leaves of understory plants; and

5. leaves subjected to various environmental stresses.

The distribution of anthocyanins in leaves, both in presence and in tissue distribution, is influenced by both phylogeny and development. Few species produce anthocyanins in leaf tissues derived from both dermal and ground embryonic tissue. These influences will be important in resolving the ecological roles of anthocyanins in leaves.

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