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Suparuek Ping Saetoen

Mr. Abel Cadias

English 10 / 10:03

May 16, 2017

Species with Different Blood Colour

Species can have varied colour of blood depending on the substances carried in the

blood cell, body condition and the way the species transport material through the blood. The

purpose of this research report is to explain why species have other blood colours than red

and also compare and contrast the benefit and use between various blood colours. The

importance of this research report is to explain the function and feature of blood colours in

different organisms living in Earth. The pieces of information found in this research report

are based on eight sources. First, the article entitled, The Chemistry of the colour of blood

concludes that components in the blood determine the colour of the blood. Second, the article

called Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin describes about hemocyanin, the native KLH found in

marine organisms which is a cylindrical copper containing blue protein that allows blood

colour to show in blue. Third, the article named Why Blood Is Not Always Red explains

oxygen transporter in the blood cell of each species and what colours are made by those

oxygen transporters. Also, Chris Capps in his article called Human With Green Blood talks

about the effect of intake medicine on the colour of the blood. Fifth, the article named No,

Not All Blood Is Red by Jessica Orwig and Dylan Roach reveals that animal blood comes in

five different colours depending on chemicals in plasma protein in the blood. Next, Anne

Marie Helmenstines article entitled Is Deoxygenated Human Blood Blue? points out that

oxygenated blood is red while deoxygenated blood is blue. Seventh, article entitled In

Animal Kingdom, Blood Comes in a Rainbow of Colors by Carrie Arnold, National


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Geographic explains that hemoglobin and hemocyanin in the blood represent the different

colours of the blood. Seventh, H. Munro Fox in his article of On Chlorocruorin and

Haemoglobin gives information about what is chlorocruorin and and comparison between

chlorocruorin and haemoglobin. Lastly, the article of Linda Crampton in the title Blood

Color In Humans And Animals: Meaning And Function explains about the function and

feature of different blood colour.

The Cause of Different Blood Colour in Organisms

Earth is marvelous, even blood of all living things do not always come in red. It

sounds incredible but real that different species of organisms can have blue, green, yellow, or

violet blood colour. The answer behind this curiosity is the chemical carried in the blood

which colourizes the blood to show in different colours. Humans and most of the mammals

and vertebrates have the blood colour of red because of the oxygen transporter protein -

hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is also known as respiratory pigment that carries Oxygen to the

cells and brings Carbon Dioxide back to lung in order to exchange the molecules. It is a large

protein made up of four smaller proteins containing iron atom with ability of binding oxygen

molecules. Iron atoms structure is the key for blood colour appearance. (The Chemistry of

The Colour of Blood, 2015). The colour of hemoglobin is red when oxygenated and slightly

darker when deoxygenated. Blue blood colour is commonly found in arthropod like spider,

crustaceous, octopuses, squid, and some molluscs. According to Why Blood Is Not Always

Red GH Scientific (2015), blue blood colour is the result of haemocyanin, a protein which

is responsible for oxygen transporter. Haemocyanin has different physical structure to

haemoglobin. It is associated with copper atom instead of iron atom. So, blood becomes

colourless when it is deoxygenated, and turns blue when oxygenated. Roach and Orwig

(2016) stated out that yellow blood colour is also possible in some insect such as beetle, sea

squirt, and sea cucumber. The presence of yellow is caused by highly concentration of
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vanabin in their blood that turns yellow when oxygenated. However, vanabin doesnt assist

blood to carry oxygen. Its purpose is still a question mark to the scientists. Green blood is

another blood colour found in some species of marine polychaete worms, leeches and

serpulimorpha. The Chemistry of The Colour of Blood (2015) pointed out that green colour is

the result of a protein named Chlorocruorin that has the similar chemical structure to

Haemoglobin. The last blood colour, violet colour from marine worm, is caused by a

respiratory pigment called Haemorythrin with iron atom contained.

The Function of Different Blood Colours

Different blood colours come in different respiratory pigment, and those varied

respiratory pigments are responsible for different tasks and functions. First, red blood

colours respiratory pigment, hemoglobin, is known as the most efficient in term of carrying

oxygen molecule (The Chemistry of The Colour of Blood, 2015). In the lung, oxygen

molecule binds to iron atom on hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is oxygenated and its colour is

turned into bright red. When it finishes its task which is carrying oxygen molecule to the cell

throughout the body, the colour of hemoglobin turns back to dark red. There is an extremely

low possibility for hemoglobin to show in green, too. Cramton (2017) pointed out that an

uncommon condition called Sulfhemoglobinemia binds sulfur molecule to hemoglobin which

result in green blood colour and oxygen transportation inability. Secondly, there is

haemocyanin from blue blood colour. The replacement of iron-based hemoglobin with

copper-based haemocyanin bends the main function of the blood. Haemocyanin focuses on

transporting nutrient rather than gas molecule (Helmenstine, 2017). Unlike haemoglobin in

red blood cell, haemocyanin is not bound to the blood cell but carried by blood fluid.

Haemocyanin is only found in a tiny number of insects beside arthropods and mollusks

because insects have evolved another respiratory system that can directly transfer oxygen

molecule through a network of tube named trachea to the organs within the body. Another
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interesting blood colour, yellow colour, which is mostly found in insect. According to Roach

and Orwig (2016), since insect has evolved its own respiratory system, there is no respiratory

pigment needed, and the colour of blood is thought to come from colour of food molecule.

But, yellow blood is also found in some aquatic creatures and the composition within the

blood is different to yellow blood in insect. Sea cucumber, one of aquatic creatures with

yellow blood stores vanadium extracted from the sea for synthesizing protein, vanabin. The

protein vanabin will be shown in yellow when oxygenated. However, scientists havent yet

come up with a conclusion that whether vanabin is involved in oxygen transportation in

cucumber. At least, they found some hemoglobin in some species of cucumber. Next,

chlorocruorin from green blood colour with a similar chemical structure to haemoglobin but

chlorocruorin has less oxygen affinity than hemoglobin. Fox (1949) mentioned in his article

that Serpulimorpha in the genus Serpula has a presence of both haemoglobin and

chlorocruorin together in the blood. At the same time, Serpulimorpha in the genus Potamilla

has chlorocruorin in its blood as well as haemoglobin in its muscle. The last blood colour,

violet containing haemorythrin which is another type of respiratory pigment. Same as

haemoglobin, haemorythrin is associated with iron atom, but the efficiency of ability of

oxygen transportation is way less than haemoglobin.

The Medical Uses of Different Blood Colour

Beside the various characteristic and functionality of different blood colour, each

blood colour provides its superior medical usage. The oxygen transporter, Haemoglobin, is

very important for humans and mammals. In case of one is not having enough of blood or red

blood cell due to disease, infection, or accidentally bleeding, the blood can be transferred

between the same species with a certain limitation like A and B blood types can only be

transferred to same species with the same blood type, O blood type can be given to organism

with any blood types but it can only receive the blood from O blood type. Haemocyanin has
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been used as a carrier protein for antibody production against antigen by chemical company

over 40 years. Hemocyanin from a mollusk, the Giant Keyhole Limpet, Megathura crenulata,

also recognized as KLH is used as vaccine teaching body to fight with diseases and cancers

(KLH: Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin, n.d.). Below are images of Megathura crenulata and

collecting blood from Megathura crenulata .

Figure1. Megathura crenulata

Figure 2. Collecting blood from Megathura crenulata

Horseshoe crab is another species where hemocyanin can be collected for immunological use.

One thirds of blood is taken from the crabs before the crabs are released to the environment,

but most of them survive. Below is an image of collecting blood from Horseshoe crab.
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Figure 3. Collecting blood from Horseshoe crabs

Conclusion

The purpose of this research report was to explain why species have other blood

colours than red and also compare and contrast the benefit and use between various blood

colours. Based on this research report, many species can naturally have different blood

colours. The factor behind this colour is the variation of oxygen transporter inside the blood

stream. Each oxygen transporter containing different benefit and function both for species

themselves and human medical use. Consequently, this research report recommends further

research on how Vanabin is used as a medical remedy.


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References

The Chemistry of The Colours of Blood. (2015, October 30). Retrieved March 27, 2017,
from http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/10/28/coloursofblood/

KLH: Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2017, from
https://biosyncorp.com/klh/introduction_to_hemocyanins/

Why Blood Is Not Always Red GH Scientific. (2015, November 15). Retrieved March 28,
2017, from http://ghscientific.com/blood-is-not-always-red-and-here-is-why/

Capps, C. (2010, January 18). Humans with Green Blood. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from
http://www.unexplainable.net/info-theories/humans_with_green_blood.php

Orwig, D. R. (2016, January 21). No, not all blood is colored red. Retrieved March 28, 2017,
from http://www.businessinsider.com/animal-blood-comes-in-5-crazy-colors-but-you-
have-to-do-something-gruesome-to-determine-which-2016-1

Helmenstine, A. M. (2017, February 10). Is Deoxygenated Human Blood Blue? Retrieved


March 28, 2017, from https://www.thoughtco.com/is-deoxygenated-human-blood-blue-
603874

Arnold, C. (2015, March 12). In Animal Kingdom, Blood Comes in a Rainbow of Colors.
Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150312-
blood-antarctica-octopus-animals-science-colors/

Crampton, L. (2017, February 05). Blood Color in Humans and Animals: Meaning and
Function. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://owlcation.com/stem/Blood-Color-in-
Humans-and-Animals-Meaning-and-Function

Fox, H. M. (1949, October 19). On Chlorocruorin and Haemoglobin. Retrieved April 30,
2017, from http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/136/884/378