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Detection of chlorophylls in spores of seven ferns

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Fern spores were traditionally classified into chlorophyllous (green) and nonchlorophyllous (nongreen) types based on the color visible to the naked eye. Recently, a third type, “cryptochlorophyllous spores”, is recognized, and these spores are nongreen under white light but contain chlorophylls. Epifluorescence microscopy was previously used to detect chlorophylls in cryptochlorophyllous spores. In addition to epifluorescence microscopy, current study performed some other approaches, including spore-squash epifluorescence, absorption spectra, laser-induced fluorescence emission spectra, thin layer chromatography (TLC), and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet and mass spectrometric detection (UHPLC-UV-MS) in order to detect chlorophylls of spores of seven ferns (Sphaeropteris lepifera, Ceratopteris thalictroides, Leptochilus wrightii, Leptochilus pothifolius, Lepidomicrosorum buergerianum, Osmunda banksiifolia, and Platycerium grande). Destructive methods, such as TLC and UHPLC-UV-MS, successfully detected chlorophylls inside the spores when their signals of red fluorescence under epifluorescence microscope were masked by spore wall. Although UHPLC-UV-MS analysis was the most sensitive and reliable for determining the chlorophylls of spores, spore-squash epifluorescence is not only reliable but also cost- and time-effective one among our study methods. In addition, we first confirmed that Lepidomicrosorium buergerianum, Leptochilus pothifolius, Leptochilus wrightii, and Platycerium grande, produce cryptochlorophyllous spores.

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We thank Dr. Wen-Liang Chiou, Tzu-Tong Kao, and Daniel P. Chamberlin for fruitful discussions and English editing assistance, respectively. We also thank Hajime Ikeda and two anonymous reviews for providing constructive comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 102-2313-B-845-001-MY3).

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Correspondence to Yao-Moan Huang.

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Tseng, MH., Lin, KH., Huang, YJ. et al. Detection of chlorophylls in spores of seven ferns. J Plant Res 130, 407–416 (2017).

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