The chemistry of chlorophyll

  • S. Aronoff
Part of the Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie / Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (532, volume 5)


The chlorophylls are naturally-occurring magnesium-substituted porphyrin pigments. The compounds of major importance are chlorophylls a and b. These occur in an approximate ratio of 2:1 in all the multicellular terrestrial plants, along with much smaller amounts of their immediate precursors, protochlorophyll (a) (7,8-dehydrochlorophyll a) and desphytol protochlorophyll (2-vinyl-2-desethyl magnesium pheoporphyrin a5) and other porphyrins of unknown constitution which lie above chlorophyll a on a sugar chromatographic column. Brown algae, dinoflagellates, and diatoms contain small amounts of chlorophyll c in addition to a, while red algae contain a chlorophyll d besides the a. The red and brown algae also contain phycobilins, where, as the name suggests, the porphyrin ring is represented, vestigially, as an open (linear) tetrapyrrole structure, which is, nevertheless, photochemically active. The photosynthetic purple bacteria contain a bactochlorophyll (bacteriochlorophyll); the photosynthetic green sulfur bacteria possess chlorobium chlorophyll (bacterioviridin).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1960

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  • S. Aronoff

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