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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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AFSRC Picture of the Week, March 12, 2007
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Fluorescing plant samples

Plant structure and physiology are affected by specific microsite conditions.  Shown here is a color “fingerprint” of simple extracts from tall fescue and orchardgrass leaves produced either in full sun or in the shade of oak trees.  In daylight, simple extracts are green. The extracts were exposed to ultra-violet light, which produced the color fingerprint shown:  
 
    Tube 1 – tall fescue, full sun
    Tube 2 – orchardgrass, full sun
    Tube 3 – tall fescue, shade
    Tube 4 – orchardgrass, shade
 
Methods such as the one illustrated here could help visualize differences that occur when plants respond to growing conditions.  Understanding plant adaptation mechanisms could help design pasture management practices that improve production and nutritive value of forages, and contribute to stand persistence.

Further details of the research can be found in:

Belesky, D. P. 2005. Growth of Dactylis glomerata Along a Light Gradient in the
Central Appalachian Region of the Eastern USA: I. Dry Matter Production and Partitioning. Agroforestry Systems, 65(2):81-90.

Photo by Susan Boyer

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Last Modified: 3/13/2007
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