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A large population of small chloroplasts in tobacco leaf cells allows more effective chloroplast movement than a few enlarged chloroplasts

Jeong, W.J., Park, Y.I., Suh, K.H., Raven, J.A., Yoo, O.J., Liu, J.R.
Plant physiology 2002 v.129 no.1 pp. 112-121
transgenic plants, light intensity, photoinhibition, Nicotiana tabacum, leaves, genetic variation, tobacco, mesophyll, plant morphology, chloroplasts
We generated transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv Xanthi) plants that contained only one to three enlarged chloroplasts per leaf mesophyll cell by introducing NtFtsZ1-2, a cDNA for plastid division. These plants were used to investigate the advantages of having a large population of small chloroplasts rather than a few enlarged chloroplasts in a leaf mesophyll cell. Despite the similarities in photosynthetic components and ultrastructure of photosynthetic machinery between wild-type and transgenic plants, the overall growth of transgenic plants under low- and high-light conditions was retarded. In wild-type plants, the chloroplasts moved toward the face position under low light and toward the profile position under high-light conditions. However, chloroplast rearrangement in transgenic plants in response to light conditions was not evident. In addition, transgenic plant leaves showed greatly diminished changes in leaf transmittance values under both light conditions, indicating that chloroplast rearrangement was severely retarded. Therefore, under low-light conditionsthe incomplete face position of the enlarged chloroplasts results in decreased absorbance of light energy. This, in turn, reduces plant growth. Under high-light conditions, the amount of absorbed light exceeds the photosynthetic utilization capacity due to the incomplete profile position of the enlarged chloroplasts, resulting in photodamage to the photosynthetic machinery, and decreased growth. The presence of a large number of small and/or rapidly moving chloroplasts in the cells of higher land plants permits more effective chloroplast phototaxis and, hence, allows more efficient utilization of low-incident photon flux densities. The photosynthetic apparatus is, consequently, protected from damage under high-incident photon flux densities.