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2010 Science News of the Year: Molecules

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2:01pm, December 17, 2010


Credit: Happy Little Nomad/Wikimedia Commons

Gimme an F
Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes the world go ’round, has come in four known flavors for more than 60 years: chlorophylls a, b, c and d. Now scientists have discovered another version of the pigment that allows plants and other photosynthesizing organisms to harness sunlight for making food and oxygen. Dubbed chlorophyll f, the new version is found in extracts of ground-up stromatolites — knobby chunks of rock and algae — collected in western Australia’s Shark Bay (SN: 9/11/10, p. 13).

Chlorophyll f absorbs light most efficiently at a wavelength around 706 nanometers, just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. The previously known chlorophylls absorb light of shorter wavelengths. Expl

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