, Volume 249, Issue 3, pp 805-817,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 08 Oct 2011

Effects of chloroplast dysfunction on mitochondria: white sectors in variegated leaves have higher mitochondrial DNA levels and lower dark respiration rates than green sectors


Co-ordination between plastids and mitochondria is so essential that there should be extensive inter-organellar crosstalk during development of plant cells. Indeed, chloroplast dysfunction in white leaves of plastid ribosome-deficient mutant barley, albostrians, is reportedly accompanied by increases in the levels of mitochondrial DNA and mitochondrial transcripts, suggesting that (i) developmental/physiological status of plastids (or heterotrophic growth condition of albino leaves) can affect the status of mitochondrial genome, and (ii) the function of the affected mitochondria may also be up-regulated accordingly. However, functional aspects of the mitochondria affected by chloroplast dysfunction have not yet been examined in detail. Here, we examined the effects of chloroplast dysfunction on mitochondrial DNA level and dark respiration rate, by comparing white and green sectors within individual variegated leaves, using 12 ornamental plants as experimental materials. The pattern of leaf variegation differed from species to species, suggesting that different mechanisms were involved in the formation of white sectors in different species. Quantitative hybridization analysis revealed that mitochondrial DNA levels were generally higher in white sectors than in green sectors. In spite of the elevated mitochondrial DNA levels, however, dark respiration rates in white sectors were generally lower than those in green sectors. Several possible mechanisms for elevation of mitochondrial DNA level and suppression of dark respiration rates in white sectors are discussed.

Handling Editor: Liwen Jiang