What are Pigments?

Are you a biology fanatic? Have you ever been fascinated about how the science behind every living thing works? Well, biology is all about that. With biology in our lives, we get to study and learn all about plants, animals, humans, basically everything! One such fascinating topic amongst many pigments. Interested to learn more about them? Let's get started then. Now, what are pigments? This is one of the basic questions to arise in your minds. They are biochromes or substances that are produced by any living organism that has color. You can also call them color pigments. You can classify them into two major types as plant pigments and flower pigments. The most common pigment that you can see around you every day is the green pigment in plants. 

It is a result of the chlorophyll present in plants. You can see the microscopic view of it in the image below. 

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What is the Meaning of Pigment?

When we talk about what is the principal pigment of plants, in simple terms, you can say that pigments are the components that give color to every living thing on this planet. In plants, you can see these pigments in leaves, and in flowers, you can see them in their petals. Not just in plants and flowers, pigments are present in animals as well. We need to understand the reason behind it. 

So what is pigment biology? It is the science due to which color pigments are produced by living organisms. They are produced due to color absorption by a particular living organism from its environment. Different organisms absorb different wavelengths of light and this results in the variations that are found in color pigments. 

What is Meant by Pigment Used in Industrial Purposes?

Now, what are pigments from the Industrial perspective? Pigments used for industrial purposes are the insoluble solid substances that are obtained by mixing two or more compounds. They are used in paints, cosmetics, inks, fabrics, plastics, and many other industries. They can be classified into 2 types as;

  • Organic Pigments

They consist of carbon chains and rings in their structure but may have some type of metallic element in their composition that is added to stabilize the parent structure.

  • Inorganic Pigments

They consist of chemical compounds that do not have carbon. They usually consist of metallic salts that are formed due to interaction between compounds.

Types of Pigment in Plants

There are different types of pigments that a plant can have. The variations in plant pigments are due to the different wavelengths of light that they absorb. The plants that have strong color pigments are also used to manufacture natural dyes. So what are the types of plant pigments? Let’s have a look at them.

Now, as per the earlier discussion, we have the answer to the question “What is the main pigment in plants?”. The answer to it is chlorophyll, which is the green pigment in plants. It is the most abundant plant pigment in the world. So what are some of the other plant pigments or what pigments are found in plants?  

Apart from the green pigment in plants, Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Betalains are some of the other plant pigments. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, color pigments are present in them too. To name a few, the yellow pigment found in them is called Lutein whereas the red pigment in plants is Lycopene.

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that are present in the flower petals of different species.

The green pigment in plants has variations depending upon the living organism that they occur in. The four types of chlorophyll in plants are chlorophyll-a, b, c, d. These chlorophyll pigment types are found in different types of algae, higher plants, and cyanobacteria spending upon the wavelength of light that they absorb.

The Types of Chlorophyll in Algae are Categorized as Follows

  • Type-a in algae.

  • Type-b in green algae.

  • Type-c in brown algae.

  • Type-d in red algae.

Importance of Pigments

So far, we have discussed the answers and facts for questions like “what are pigments?” and “what is meaning of pigment?”. We are yet to discuss the question “what do pigments do for plants?”. So let’s get started. 

Chlorophyll or the green pigment in plants is one of the most important components that the plants need to prepare their food. The absorption of light that results in the generation of the green pigment helps the plants to carry out photosynthesis and to prepare their food. 

Fun Facts

Are you aware that leaves change their color? Yes, that’s right. Due to the change in season, especially during Autumn, it becomes difficult to absorb most of the sunlight for leaves as the days get shorter. The chlorophyll supply needed for plants to make food is not met and as a result, they start to use the chlorophyll that was stored all year along. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is pigment in Science?

In the field of Science, a pigment is a substance that changes the color of light that is reflected or transmitted from it. This phenomenon occurs as a result of the absorption of light depending on the different wavelengths. These pigments have found their applications in different industries. The process of pigmentation is different from fluorescence, luminescence, and phosphorescence.  

The answer to “what are pigments” is different in the field of Biology. Plants usually have more than one pigment present to absorb more sunlight to produce more food. The most important of these pigments is chlorophyll that is responsible for photosynthesis.

2. What is the principal pigment in Plants?

The principal pigment is an important pigment found in most plants. The color that we see is the reflected light during the absorption process. The answer to the question "what is the green pigment in leaves" is Chlorophyll, which is the principal pigment in plants. This pigment is primarily responsible for photosynthesis in plants.

It absorbs blue and yellow wavelengths of light and reflects green. This is the reason why most of the plants appear green in color. The chlorophyll is the key pigment that assists in the photosynthesis process. Plants are able to make their food because of Chlorophyll.