Photos from the Field: Red Coloration in Tropical Leaves and Reduced Fungal Pathogen Damage

Tellez, Rojas and Van Bael (2016). Red coloration in young tropical leaves associated with reduced fungal pathogen damage. Biotropica, 48: 150–153. doi: 10.1111/btp.12303

The adaptive significance of red coloration in tropical forest leaves remains unclear. In vivo assays show that there is a significant negative correlation between anthocyanin pigments in young leaves and fungal pathogen damage. This supports a previous hypothesis that anthocyanins may protect young leaves from fungal damage during the vulnerable period of leaf expansion.

Lead author Peter Tellez working from the canopy crane to access leaves. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).

Lead author Peter Tellez working from the canopy crane to access leaves. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).

Authors Peter Tellez and Enith Rojas applying a pathogen plug onto leaves in the understory. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).

Authors Peter Tellez and Enith Rojas applying a pathogen plug onto leaves in the understory. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).

Plugs of Calonectria sp. (a foliar pathogen) were prepared in the lab and transported to the field for application to leaves in the canopy and understory. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).

Plugs of Calonectria sp. (a foliar pathogen) were prepared in the lab and transported to the field for application to leaves in the canopy and understory. (Photo: Sunshine Van Bael).