For 40 years, it has been known that chloroplasts signal to the nucleus and the cell to coordinate gene expression, maximize photosynthesis, and avoid stress. However, the signaling mechanisms have been challenging to uncover due to the complexity of these signals and the stresses that induce them. New research has shown that many signals are induced by singlet oxygen, a natural by-product of inefficient photosynthesis. Chloroplast singlet oxygen not only regulates nuclear gene expression, but also cellular degradation and cell death. Stressed chloroplasts also induce post-translational mechanisms, including autophagy, that allows individual chloroplasts to regulate their own degradation and turnover. Such chloroplast quality control pathways may allow cells to maintain healthy populations of chloroplasts and to avoid cumulative photo-oxidative stress in stressful environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science