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Iridescence in shade-dwelling plants has previously been described in only a few plant groups, and even fewer where the structural colour is produced by intracellular structures. In contrast with other Selaginella species, this work reports the first example in the genus of structural colour originating from modified chloroplasts. Characterization of these structures determines that they form one-dimensional photonic multilayers. The Selaginella bizonoplasts present an analogous structure to recently reported Begonia iridoplasts; however, unlike Begonia species that produce iridoplasts, this Selaginella species was not previously described as iridescent. This therefore raises the possibility of widespread but unobserved and uncharacterized photonic structures in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180559
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Iridescence
  • structural colour
  • Photosynthesis
  • photonics

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