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Research Project: Discovery and Development of Natural Product-based Weed Management Methods

Location: Natural Products Utilization Research

Title: Autofluorescences: Biological functions and technical applications

Author
item Garcia-plazaola, Jose Ignacio - University Of Basque Country
item Fernández-marín, Beatriz - University Of Basque Country
item Duke, Stephen
item Hernández, Antonio - University Of Basque Country
item Lopez-arbeloa, Fernando - University Of Basque Country
item Becerril, Jose Maria - University Of Basque Country

Submitted to: Plant Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/2015
Publication Date: 3/21/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62274
Citation: Garcia-Plazaola, J., Fernández-Marín, B., Duke, S.O., Hernández, A., Becerril, J.M. 2015. Autofluorescences: Biological functions and technical applications. Plant Science. 236:136-145.

Interpretive Summary: Fluorescence is the property by which a molecule (fluorophore), excited after the absorption of a photon, is able to de-excite by re-emitting a photon of a longer wavelength. Chlorophylls are the most remarkable examples of plant fluorophores, and their properties have been intensively studied as a useful tool that allows the simple and non-invasive assessment of photosynthesis. However, this is only one example among the many plant fluorophores, such as alkaloids (betalains), phenolics (anthocyanins) and porphyrins, many of which emit fluorescence in the visible portion of the light spectrum. Whether fluorescence is just a physicochemical curiosity in the plant kingdom or whether it plays a functional role in photoprotection or as a cue in biocommunication is subject to active discussion and experimentation. Independently of their putative functions, plant fluorophores provide researchers with a tool to visualize certain metabolites in plants and cells, complementing and overcoming some of the limitations of the use of fluorescent proteins and dyes. As some of these fluorophores are involved in environmental interactions, fluorescence can be also used as a specific stress indicator.

Technical Abstract: Fluorescence is the property by which a molecule (fluorophore), excited after the absorption of a photon, is able to de-excite by re-emitting a photon of a longer wavelength. Chlorophylls are the most remarkable examples of plant fluorophores, and their properties have been intensively studied as a useful tool that allows the simple and non-invasive assessment of photosynthesis. However, this is only one example among the many plant fluorophores, such as alkaloids (betalains), phenolics (anthocyanins) and porphyrins, many of which emit fluorescence in the visible portion of the light spectrum. Whether fluorescence is just a physicochemical curiosity in the plant kingdom or whether it plays a functional role in photoprotection or as a cue in biocommunication is subject to active discussion and experimentation. Independently of their putative functions, plant fluorophores provide researchers with a tool to visualize certain metabolites in plants and cells, complementing and overcoming some of the limitations of the use of fluorescent proteins and dyes. As some of these fluorophores are involved in environmental interactions, fluorescence can be also used as a specific stress indicator.