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The loss of DNA from chloroplasts as leaves mature: fact or artefact?

TitleThe loss of DNA from chloroplasts as leaves mature: fact or artefact?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsRowan BA, Bendich AJ
Pagination - -3010
Date Published2009

In this review, the controversy regarding the preservation or degradation of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) as chloroplasts develop their photosynthetic capacity and leaves reach maturity is addressed. A constant amount of cpDNA during maturity might be expected in order to support photosynthesis over the lifespan of the leaf. Nevertheless, a decline in cpDNA during leaf development was found for all seven plant species investigated. Initial measurements showed that Arabidopsis was similar to the other seven. The controversy arose with two recent studies concluding that the amount of cpDNA remains constant as Arabidopsis leaves mature. These authors proposed that the observation of Arabidopsis chloroplasts with undetectable levels of DNA was an artefact, although the most recent data support the original findings. If the amount of cpDNA remains constant, then Arabidopsis is atypical and would not serve as a good model for chloroplast development. It is shown that the apparently contradictory data may be attributed to methodology and the choice of leaves to be compared. Thus, it is concluded that the controversy can be resolved, Arabidopsis can serve as a representative model, and cpDNA degradation is a common event in chloroplast development.