Bernhard Kräutler and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, have discovered a new chlorophyll decomposition product in autumn leaves of the Norway maples. The new structure hints at a decomposition pathway dissimilar to that observed in other deciduous trees. "Essential pieces of the puzzle of this biological phenomenon have been solved only within the last two decades," explains Kräutler but he and his colleagues found none of the typical breakdown products in yellow-green or yellow Norway maple leaves. The main product was a dioxobilane, which looks more like a chlorophyll breakdown product from barley leaves or even bile pigments formed by heme breakdown.
The autumn leaves