When we hear about albinism, we automatically imagine a person or animal with white fur and white skin. This is because there is a lack of pigmentation in certain living things, causing the “absence of color.” But it can also be generated in plants, where a partial or complete loss of chlorophyll interferes with photosynthesis. And in this case, it is presented with a white appearance, thus standing out from the greenery surrounding it.
Natureistic.me researched the effect of albinism on plants to explain how the phenomenon occurs, adding a bonus related to pigmentation. He also collected photos to show how they reflect unmatched beauty and provide more significant variability in natural settings.
If a plant partially or entirely loses chlorophyll pigments, it suffers the effect of albinism
The albinism in a plant is characterized by the partial or complete loss of its chlorophyll pigments, thus creating a problem of reducing photosynthesis and survival. There are variations known as “hypochromia” or “albiflora”, where a species can have white flowers or some other white part without completely losing chlorophyll.
Albino sequoia trees are a clear example of how they manage to survive without chlorophyll.
The way for albino plants to survive is by leaning on other plants, such as the albino sequoia. This species has green white spines, but its albino variant has white needles that cannot produce chlorophyll. Thanks to their roots, they can consume the sugar obtained from the parent tree where they originally sprouted.
Albino plants typically fail to reach their original size due to their inability to photosynthesize. But albino redwoods are the exception, managing to reach a great height thanks to the way they graft their roots.
Albino plants rely heavily on external factors to survive
As mentioned in the previous section, albino sequoias are an exception in how they manage to survive in the wild. But the rest of the species that cannot graft their roots depend a lot on light, temperature, growing conditions, and other environmental factors.
Sometimes, albinism is overcome by somatic hybridization and the development of hybrid species, although the genetic factor is the determining factor in establishing the quality of life of a plant.
At the moment, a study theorizes that this genetic mutation is generated by the conditions of the culture that affect the DNA of the plants. Also, albinism occurs when plants are artificially cultivated, where light greatly influences good development.
Bonus: pigmentation in plants is what contributes to their growth and health
All living beings are made up of pigments that give them characteristic colors in their hair, feathers, or scales, as well as in their skin and eyes. In the case of plants, the function of pigments in photosynthesis where uses green with red and yellow to absorb light and generate oxygen.
It is thanks to chlorophyll that plants can generate energy captured by the sun’s rays, developing that very characteristic greenish hue of leaves capable of transforming light energy into chemical energy.