, Volume 237, Issue 3, pp 653-664

First online:

New insights into plastid nucleoid structure and functionality

  • Karin KrupinskaAffiliated withInstitute of Botany, University of Kiel Email author 
  • , Joanna MelonekAffiliated withInstitute of Botany, University of Kiel
  • , Kirsten KrauseAffiliated withDepartment for Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø


Investigations over many decades have revealed that nucleoids of higher plant plastids are highly dynamic with regard to their number, their structural organization and protein composition. Membrane attachment and environmental cues seem to determine the activity and functionality of the nucleoids and point to a highly regulated structure–function relationship. The heterogeneous composition and the many functions that are seemingly associated with the plastid nucleoids could be related to the high number of chromosomes per plastid. Recent proteomic studies have brought novel nucleoid-associated proteins into the spotlight and indicated that plastid nucleoids are an evolutionary hybrid possessing prokaryotic nucleoid features and eukaryotic (nuclear) chromatin components, several of which are dually targeted to the nucleus and chloroplasts. Future studies need to unravel if and how plastid–nucleus communication depends on nucleoid structure and plastid gene expression.


Plastid nucleoid-associated proteins Plastid nucleoid structure Plastid gene expression Transcriptionally active chromosome