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Role of aluminum in red-to-blue color changes in Hydrangea macrophylla sepals



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Biometals. 2011 Dec;24(6):1005-15. doi: 10.1007/s10534-011-9458-x. Epub 2011 May 17.

Role of aluminum in red-to-blue color changes in Hydrangea macrophylla sepals.

Schreiber HD1, Jones AH, Lariviere CM, Mayhew KM, Cain JB.

  • 1Department of Chemistry, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA 24450, USA. HS@vmi.edu


Red, purple, and blue sepals on selected cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla were analyzed for their aluminum content. This content was determined to be a function of the sepal color with red sepals possessing 0-10 μg Al/g fresh sepal, purple sepals having 10-40 μg Al/g fresh sepal, and blue sepals containing greater than 40 μg Al/g fresh sepal. Accordingly, the threshold aluminum content needed to change H. macrophylla sepals from red to blue was about 40 μg Al/g fresh sepal. Higher aluminum concentrations were incorporated into the sepals, but this additional aluminum did not affect the intensity or hue of the blue color. These observations agreed with a chemical model proposing that the concentration of the blue Al(3+)-anthocyanin complex reached a maximum when a sufficient excess of aluminum was present. In addition, the visible absorbance spectra of harvested red, purple, and blue sepals were duplicated by Al(3+) and anthocyanin (delphinidin-3-glucoside) mixtures in this model chemical system.

PMID:  21584711

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