Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Plant Pigment Chromatography


Paper chromatography is a technique used to separate substances in a mixture based on the movement of the different substances up a piece of paper by capillary action. Pigments extracted from plant cells contain a variety of molecules, such as chlorophylls, beta carotene, and xanthophyll, that can be separated using paper chromatography. A small sample of plant pigment placed on chromatography paper travels up the paper due to capillary action. Beta carotene is carried the furthest because it is highly soluble in the solvent and because it forms no hydrogen bonds with the chromatography paper fibers. Xanthophyll contains oxygen and does not travel quite as far with the solvent because it is less soluble than beta carotene and forms some hydrogen bonds with the paper. Chlorophylls are bound more tightly to the paper than the other two, so they travel the shortest distance.

The ratio of the distance moved by a pigment to the distance moved by the solvent is a constant, Rf. Each type of molecule has its own Rf value.

{R_f} = \frac{{{\text{distance traveled by pigment}}}}  {{{\text{distance traveled by solvent}}}}


In this experiment, you will

  • Separate plant pigments.
  • Calculate the Rf values of the pigments.

Sensors and Equipment

No probeware required for this experiment.

Advanced Biology with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1ADiffusion through Membranes
2AEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
2BEnzyme Action: Testing Catalase Activity
3Mitosis & Meiosis
4APlant Pigment Chromatography
5ACell Respiration (CO2 and O2)
5BCell Respiration (CO2)
5CCell Respiration (O2)
5DCell Respiration (Pressure)
6ApGLO™ Bacterial Transformation
6BAnalysis of Precut Lambda DNA
6BForensic DNA Fingerprinting
7Genetics of Drosophila
8Population Genetics and Evolution
10ABlood Pressure as a Vital Sign
10BHeart Rate and Physical Fitness
11Animal Behavior
12ADissolved Oxygen in Water
12BPrimary Productivity
13The Visible Spectra of Plant Pigments
14Determination of Chlorophyll in Olive Oil
15Enzyme Analysis using Tyrosinase
16Introduction to Neurotransmitters using AChE
17Macromolecules: Experiments with Protein

Experiment 4A from Advanced Biology with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Advanced Biology with Vernier</i> book cover

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