, Volume 224, Issue 1, pp 72–82 | Cite as

Changes in chloroplast DNA during development in tobacco, Medicago truncatula, pea, and maize

  • Jeffrey M. Shaver
  • Delene J. Oldenburg
  • Arnold J. BendichEmail author
Original Article


We examined the DNA from chloroplasts obtained from young and fully expanded leaves of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.), Medicago truncatula, pea (Pisum sativum L.), and maize (Zea mays L.). The changes in plastid DNA content and structure were monitored by four independent methods: 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining with intact chloroplasts, in situ DAPI staining of cytological sections, ethidium bromide staining at the single-molecule level after exhaustive deproteinization of lysed chloroplasts, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. During leaf development, we found a decline of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) in all four plants. For tobacco, for which plants can readily be regenerated from somatic cells, cpDNA persisted longer than in the other three plants. We also found a striking progression from complex multigenomic DNA molecules to simple subgenomic molecules during plastid development. Although the decrease in molecular size and complexity paralleled the decrease in DNA content per plastid, 6% of the chloroplasts in a fully expanded tobacco leaf still contained DNA in complex branched structure, whereas no such complex structures were found in mature leaves for the hard-to-regenerate maize.


Chloroplast DNA DAPI Development Fluorescence microscopy Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis Regeneration 



Chloroplast DNA




Inverted repeat



The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number#2002-35301-12021. We thank Marc Schleh for conducting the maize assays and Doug Ewing for assistance with growing plants.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey M. Shaver
    • 1
  • Delene J. Oldenburg
    • 1
  • Arnold J. Bendich
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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