Biology

What exactly is chlorophyll? | Definition, Types and Structure of Chlorophyll

(What does chlorophyll do to your body?)

Chlorophyll is a green pigment. It is present in all photosynthetic organisms. It is insoluble in water but it is soluble in organic solvents like carbon tetra chloride (CCl4), alcohol etc.

Types of chlorophyll

There are different kinds of chlorophyll. These are chlorophyll a, b, c and d. These pigments are found in eukaryotic photosynthetic plants. The chlorophylls present in photosynthetic bacteria are called bacteriochlorophylls.

Wave length absorbed by chlorophylls

Chlorophylls absorb mainly violet-blue and orange-red wave lengths. Chlorophylls least absorb green and yellow wave lengths. So, these wave lengths are transmitted or reflected. The dark green colour always masks the yellow colour. Hence plant appears green. It remains green unless some other pigment masks it.

Structure of chlorophylls

A chlorophyll molecule has two main parts:

Hydrophilic Head

It is flat, square and light absorbing part. Head has a complex porphyrin ring. This ring is made up of four jointed smaller units called pyrrole rings. Each pyrrole ring is composed of carbon and nitrogen atoms. An atom of magnesium is present in the center of porphyrin ring.

This Mg atom coordinates with the nitrogen of each pyrrole ring. That is why the deficiency of magnesium makes the plant yellow. The Haem group of the haemoglobin is also a porphyrin ring. But it contains an iron atom in the place of magnesium in the center.

Hydrophobic hydrocarbon tail

It is long and anchoring part. It is composed of long hydrocarbon chain called Phytol (C20OH39). This Phytol is attached with the one of the pyrrole ring. The chlorophyll molecule is embedded in the hydrophobic core of the thylakoid membrane with this tail.chlorophyll-haemoglobin

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