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Concept: Plastid


The ~1.6 Ga Tirohan Dolomite of the Lower Vindhyan in central India contains phosphatized stromatolitic microbialites. We report from there uniquely well-preserved fossils interpreted as probable crown-group rhodophytes (red algae). The filamentous form Rafatazmia chitrakootensis n. gen, n. sp. has uniserial rows of large cells and grows through diffusely distributed septation. Each cell has a centrally suspended, conspicuous rhomboidal disk interpreted as a pyrenoid. The septa between the cells have central structures that may represent pit connections and pit plugs. Another filamentous form, Denaricion mendax n. gen., n. sp., has coin-like cells reminiscent of those in large sulfur-oxidizing bacteria but much more recalcitrant than the liquid-vacuole-filled cells of the latter. There are also resemblances with oscillatoriacean cyanobacteria, although cell volumes in the latter are much smaller. The wider affinities of Denaricion are uncertain. Ramathallus lobatus n. gen., n. sp. is a lobate sessile alga with pseudoparenchymatous thallus, “cell fountains,” and apical growth, suggesting florideophycean affinity. If these inferences are correct, Rafatazmia and Ramathallus represent crown-group multicellular rhodophytes, antedating the oldest previously accepted red alga in the fossil record by about 400 million years.

Concepts: Algae, Cyanobacteria, Bacteria, Plastid, Plant, Cell wall, Brown algae, Red algae


Plants are able to sense the magnitude and direction of gravity. This capacity is thought to reside in selected cell types within the plant body that are equipped with specialized organelles called statoliths. However, most plant cells do not possess statoliths, yet they respond to changes in gravitational acceleration. To understand the effect of gravity on the metabolism and cellular functioning of non-specialized plant cells, we investigated a rapidly growing plant cell devoid of known statoliths and without gravitropic behavior, the pollen tube. The effects of hyper-gravity and omnidirectional exposure to gravity on intracellular trafficking and on cell wall assembly were assessed in Camellia pollen tubes, a model system with highly reproducible growth behavior in vitro. Using an epi-fluorescence microscope mounted on the Large Diameter Centrifuge at the European Space Agency, we were able to demonstrate that vesicular trafficking is reduced under hyper-gravity conditions. Immuno-cytochemistry confirmed that both in hyper and omnidirectional gravity conditions, the characteristic spatial profiles of cellulose and callose distribution in the pollen tube wall were altered, in accordance with a dose-dependent effect on pollen tube diameter. Our findings suggest that in response to gravity induced stress, the pollen tube responds by modifying cell wall assembly to compensate for the altered mechanical load. The effect was reversible within few minutes demonstrating that the pollen tube is able to quickly adapt to changing stress conditions.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Cell, Plastid, Eukaryote, Cell biology, Cell wall, Vacuole, Plant cell


Transglutaminases function as biological glues in animal cells, plant cells and microbes. In energy producing organelles such as chloroplasts the presence of transglutaminases was recently confirmed. Furthermore, a plastidial transglutaminase has been cloned from maize and the first plants overexpressing tgz are available (Nicotiana tabacum TGZ OE). Our hypothesis is that the overexpression of plastidal transglutaminase will alter photosynthesis via increased polyamination of the antenna of photosystem II. We have used standard analytical tools to separate the antenna from photosystem II in wild type and modified plants, 6 specific antibodies against LHCbs to confirm their presence and sensitive HPLC method to quantify the polyamination level of these proteins. We report that bound spermidine and spermine were significantly increased (∼80%) in overexpressors. Moreover, we used recent advances in in vivo probing to study simultaneously the proton and electron circuit of thylakoids. Under physiological conditions overexpressors show a 3-fold higher sensitivity of the antenna down regulation loop (qE) to the elicitor (luminal protons) which is estimated as the ΔpH component of thylakoidal proton motive force. In addition, photosystem (hyper-PSIIα) with an exceptionally high antenna (large absorption cross section), accumulate in transglutaminase over expressers doubling the rate constant of light energy utilization (Kα) and promoting thylakoid membrane stacking. Polyamination of antenna proteins is a previously unrecognized mechanism for the modulation of the size (antenna absorption cross section) and sensitivity of photosystem II to down regulation. Future research will reveal which peptides and which residues of the antenna are responsible for such effects.

Concepts: DNA, Photosynthesis, Protein, Cell, Plastid, Eukaryote, Organelle, Chloroplast


The dinoflagellates are an important group of eukaryotic, single celled algae. They are the sister group of the Apicomplexa, a group of intracellular parasites and photosynthetic algae including the malaria parasite Plasmodium. Many apicomplexan mitochondria have a number of unusual features, including the lack of a pyruvate dehydrogenase and the existence of a branched TCA cycle. Here, we analyse dinoflagellate EST (expressed sequence tag) data to determine whether these features are apicomplexan-specific, or if they are more widespread. We show that dinoflagellates have replaced a key subunit (E1) of pyruvate dehydrogenase with a subunit of bacterial origin and that transcripts encoding many of the proteins that are essential in a conventional ATP synthase/Complex V are absent, as is the case in Apicomplexa. There is a pathway for synthesis of starch or glycogen as a storage carbohydrate. Transcripts encoding isocitrate lyase and malate synthase are present, consistent with ultrastructural reports of a glyoxysome. Finally, evidence for a conventional haem biosynthesis pathway is found, in contrast to the Apicomplexa, Chromera and early branching dinoflagellates (Perkinsus, Oxyrrhis).

Concepts: Algae, Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Metabolism, Plastid, Apicomplexa, Citric acid cycle, Protist


Computational modeling of growing plant tissues raises two basic questions about plant cell division: when does a cell decide to divide and where is the new wall placed? Although biologists and modelers commonly assume that a cell divides after it reaches a threshold size, two recent experiments show that models with variable division sizes better replicate the tissue. Similarly, comparing model predictions with living plant cells reveals that the choice of division plane is variable, although the shortest path dividing a cell in half (i.e. the minimal surface area) is the most probable division plane.

Concepts: Cell, Plastid, Eukaryote, Cell wall, Model, Vacuole, Plant cell, Continental divide


We undertook a study of Porphyra acanthophora var. brasiliensis to determine its responses under ambient conditions, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and PAR+UVBR (ultraviolet radiation-B) treatment, focusing on changes in ultrastructure, and cytochemistry. Accordingly, control ambient samples were collected in the field, and two different treatments were performed in the laboratory. Plants were exposed to PAR at 60 μmol photons m-2 s-1 and PAR + UVBR at 0.35 W m-2 for 3 h per day during 21 days of in vitro cultivation. Confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis of the vegetative cells showed single stellate chloroplast in ambient and PAR samples, but in PAR+UVBR-exposed plants, the chloroplast showed alterations in the number and form of arms. Under PAR+UVBR treatment, the thylakoids of the chloroplasts were disrupted, and an increase in the number of plastoglobuli was observed, in addition to mitochondria, which appeared with irregular, disrupted morphology compared to ambient and PAR samples. After UVBR exposure, the formation of carpospores was also observed. Plants under ambient conditions, as well as those treated with PAR and PAR+UVBR, all showed different concentrations of enzymatic response, including glutathione peroxidase and reductase activity. In summary, the present study demonstrates that P. acanthophora var. brasiliensis shows the activation of distinct mechanisms against natural radiation, PAR and PAR+UVBR.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plastid, Eukaryote, Chloroplast, Plant, Glutathione peroxidase, Photosynthetically active radiation, Red algae


Chromoplasts are special organelles that possess superior ability to synthesize and store massive amounts of carotenoids. They are responsible for the distinctive colors found in fruits, flowers, and roots. Chromoplasts exhibit various morphologies and are derived from either pre-existing chloroplasts or other non-photosynthetic plastids such as proplastids, leucoplasts or amyloplasts. While little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying chromoplast biogenesis, research progress along with proteomics study of chromoplast proteomes signifies various processes and factors improtant for chromoplast differentiaton and development. Chromoplasts act as a metabolic sink that enables great biosynthesis and high storage capacity of carotenoids. The formation of chromoplasts enhances carotenoid metabolic sink strength and controls carotenoid accumulation in plants. The objective of this review is to provide an integrated view on our understanding of chromoplast biogenesis and carotenoid accumulation in plants.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plastid, Carotenoid, Organelles, Chromoplast, Leucoplast, Amyloplast, Elaioplast


Recent molecular phylogenetic studies reported high diversity of Ruppia species in the Mediterranean. Multiple taxa, including apparent endemics, are known from that region, however, they have thus far not been exposed to phylogenetic analyses aimed at studying their relationships to taxa from other parts of the world. Here we present a comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of the R. maritima complex using data sets composed of DNA sequences of the plastid genome, the multi-copy nuclear ITS region, and the low-copy nuclear phyB gene with a primary focus on the Mediterranean representatives of the complex. As a result, a new lineage, “Drepanensis”, was identified as the seventh entity of the complex. This lineage is endemic to the Mediterranean. The accessions included in the former “Tetraploid” entity were reclassified into two entities: an Asia-Australia-Europe disjunct “Tetraploid_α” with a paternal “Diploid” origin, and a European “Tetraploid_γ” originating from a maternal “Drepanensis” lineage. Another entity, “Tetraploid_β”, is likely to have been originated as a result of chloroplast capture through backcrossing hybridization between paternal “Tetraploid_α” and maternal “Tetraploid_γ”. Additional discovery of multiple tetraploidizations as well as hybridization and chloroplast capture at the tetraploid level indicated that hybridization has been a significant factor in the diversification of Ruppia.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Evolution, Genome, Plastid, Species, Cladistics, Entity-relationship model


Biological carbon fixation is a key step in the global carbon cycle that regulates the atmosphere’s composition while producing the food we eat and the fuels we burn. Approximately one-third of global carbon fixation occurs in an overlooked algal organelle called the pyrenoid. The pyrenoid contains the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco and enhances carbon fixation by supplying Rubisco with a high concentration of CO2 Since the discovery of the pyrenoid more that 130 y ago, the molecular structure and biogenesis of this ecologically fundamental organelle have remained enigmatic. Here we use the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to discover that a low-complexity repeat protein, Essential Pyrenoid Component 1 (EPYC1), links Rubisco to form the pyrenoid. We find that EPYC1 is of comparable abundance to Rubisco and colocalizes with Rubisco throughout the pyrenoid. We show that EPYC1 is essential for normal pyrenoid size, number, morphology, Rubisco content, and efficient carbon fixation at low CO2 We explain the central role of EPYC1 in pyrenoid biogenesis by the finding that EPYC1 binds Rubisco to form the pyrenoid matrix. We propose two models in which EPYC1’s four repeats could produce the observed lattice arrangement of Rubisco in the Chlamydomonas pyrenoid. Our results suggest a surprisingly simple molecular mechanism for how Rubisco can be packaged to form the pyrenoid matrix, potentially explaining how Rubisco packaging into a pyrenoid could have evolved across a broad range of photosynthetic eukaryotes through convergent evolution. In addition, our findings represent a key step toward engineering a pyrenoid into crops to enhance their carbon fixation efficiency.

Concepts: DNA, Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Plastid, Eukaryote, Carbon, Carbon cycle


When a plant cell divides, four related proteins control the trafficking of vesicles and ensure that cargo that is normally recycled to the plasma membrane is instead re-routed to the plane of cell division.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Cell, Plastid, Eukaryote, Cell membrane, Cytoplasm, Cell wall