Skip to main content

Role of aluminum in red-to-blue color changes in Hydrangea macrophylla sepals

Abstract

Red, purple, and blue sepals on selected cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla were analyzed for their aluminum content. This content was determined to be a function of the sepal color with red sepals possessing 0–10 μg Al/g fresh sepal, purple sepals having 10–40 μg Al/g fresh sepal, and blue sepals containing greater than 40 μg Al/g fresh sepal. Accordingly, the threshold aluminum content needed to change H. macrophylla sepals from red to blue was about 40 μg Al/g fresh sepal. Higher aluminum concentrations were incorporated into the sepals, but this additional aluminum did not affect the intensity or hue of the blue color. These observations agreed with a chemical model proposing that the concentration of the blue Al3+-anthocyanin complex reached a maximum when a sufficient excess of aluminum was present. In addition, the visible absorbance spectra of harvested red, purple, and blue sepals were duplicated by Al3+ and anthocyanin (delphinidin-3-glucoside) mixtures in this model chemical system.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14

References

  • Allen R (1943) Influence of aluminum on the flower color of Hydrangea macrophylla. Contrib Boyce Thompson Inst 13:221–242

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Asen S, Stuart NW, Siegelman HW (1959) Effect of various concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium on sepal color of Hydrangea macrophylla. Proc Am Soc Hort Sci 73:495–501

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Asen S, Stuart NW, Specht AW (1960) Color of Hydrangea macrophylla sepals as influenced by the carry-over effects from summer applications of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Proc Am Soc Hort Sci 76:631–636

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bir R (2007) Big flowered bigleaf hydrangeas. Great Plants (Special Issue of Fine Gardening) Spring 2007:78–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Dirr MA (2004) Hydrangeas for American gardens. Timber Press, Portland, OR

    Google Scholar 

  • Ito D, Shinkai Y, Kato Y, Kondo T, Yoshida K (2009) Chemical studies on different color development in blue- and red-colored sepal cells of Hydrangea macrophylla. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 73:1054–1059

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ma JF, Hiradate S, Nomoto K, Iwashita T, Matsumoto H (1997) Internal detoxification mechanism of Al in hydrangea: identification of Al form in leaves. Plant Physiol 113:1033–1039

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ma JF, Ryan PR, Delhaize E (2001) Aluminum tolerance in plants and the complexing role of organic acids. Trends Plant Sci 6:273–278

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Naumann A, Horst WJ (2003) Effect of aluminum supply on aluminum uptake, translocation, and blueing of Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) ser. Cultivars in a peat-clay substrate. J Hort Sci Biotechnol 76:463–469

    Google Scholar 

  • Schreiber HD, Wade NA (2007) Field-portable analysis of anthocyanin concentration in sepals of Hydrangea macrophylla. HortSci 42:1323–1325

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schreiber HD, Swink AM, Godsey TD (2010) The chemical mechanism for Al3+ complexing with delphinidin: a model for the bluing of hydrangea sepals. J Inorg Biochem 104:732–739

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schreiber HD, Wade SE, Mayhew KM, Cobb JA (2011) Characterization of Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars by the anthocyanin content of their sepals. J Environ Hort (in press)

  • Takeda K, Kariuda M, Itoi H (1985) Blueing of sepal color of Hydrangea macrophylla. Phytochem 24:2251–2254

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Toyama-Kato Y, Yoshida K, Fujimori E, Haraguchi H, Shimizu Y, Kondo T (2003) Analysis of metal elements of hydrangea sepals at various growing stages by ICP-AES. Biochem Eng J 14:237–241

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshida K, Toyama-Kato Y, Kameda K, Kondo T (2003) Sepal color variation of Hydrangea macrophylla and vacuolar pH measured with a proton-selective microelectrode. Plant Cell Physiol 44:262–268

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshida K, Mori M, Kondo T (2009) Blue flower color development by anthocyanins: from chemical structure to cell physiology. Nat Prod Rep 26:857–964

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffers Memorial Trust, Virginia Military Institute, and BackCountry Research. Samantha Wade and Taylor Godsey provided technical aid for the completion of this research.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Henry D. Schreiber.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Schreiber, H.D., Jones, A.H., Lariviere, C.M. et al. Role of aluminum in red-to-blue color changes in Hydrangea macrophylla sepals. Biometals 24, 1005–1015 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10534-011-9458-x

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10534-011-9458-x

Keywords

  • Aluminum
  • Bluing
  • Delphinidin-3-glucoside
  • Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Sepal color