Why do most plants look green? And how do they capture energy from light?
These and more questions about the properties of chlorophyll are explored through this simple hands-on investigation, which we present here as a free resource. In this activity, students will isolate plant pigments from leaves, separate the pigments using paper chromatography and then investigate whether the different pigments will fluoresce when suspended in a solvent. Using the background information provided with this lab, students will be able to describe the physiological role of chlorophyll and will be able to explain why fluorescence is a property of chlorophyll only when removed from its cellular surroundings.
This lab is designed to be performed with the P51™ Molecular Viewer, but can be carried out with any blue light illumination system, including blueGel™ and blueBox™.
Required equipment (one per lab group):
- Blue light transilluminator (such as blueBox™ or blueGel™) or P51™ Molecular Viewer
- Techniques utilized: Micropipetting, paper chromatography, fluorescence detection.
- Time required: one 45-min class period.
- Reagents needed: Acetone, isopropyl alcohol, or other organic solvent, chromatography paper/filter paper, plant leaves.
- Suggested skill level: Familiarity with chlorophyll, photosynthesis and pipetting technique.
Free miniPCR Learning Lab™ downloads:
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