Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 105, Issue 2, pp 143–166 | Cite as

Etioplast and etio-chloroplast formation under natural conditions: the dark side of chlorophyll biosynthesis in angiosperms

  • Katalin SolymosiEmail author
  • Benoît Schoefs


Chloroplast development is usually regarded as proceeding from proplastids. However, direct or indirect conversion pathways have been described in the literature, the latter involving the etioplast or the etio-chloroplast stages. Etioplasts are characterized by the absence of chlorophylls (Chl-s) and the presence of a unique inner membrane network, the prolamellar body (PLB), whereas etio-chloroplasts contain Chl-s and small PLBs interconnected with chloroplast thylakoids. As etioplast development requires growth in darkness for several days, this stage is generally regarded as a nonnatural pathway of chloroplast development occurring only under laboratory conditions. In this article, we have reviewed the data in favor of the involvement of etioplasts and etio-chloroplasts as intermediary stage(s) in chloroplast formation under natural conditions, the molecular aspects of PLB formation and we propose a dynamic model for its regulation.


Chlorophyll biosynthesis Chloroplast differentiation Etioplast Etioplast–chloroplast transition Prolamellar body Protochlorophyllide 



5-Aminolevulinic acid






Constitutively photomorphogenic 1 gene, encoding the COP1 protein corresponding to E3-ubiquitin ligase


Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl cyclase


Light-independent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase




A nuclear encoded protein that exerts negative feedback control on Chl biosynthesis


Glutamyl t-RNA reductase


The CHLH subunit of Mg-chelatase, the abbreviation comes from GENOME UNCOUPLED 5


The gene encoding GLU-TR


Light–dark cycles


Nuclear genes encoding major light-harvesting Chl a/b proteins associated to PSI and PSII, respectively


Light-dependent NADPH:protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase


Different isoforms of LPOR




Magnesium PPIX


Magnesium PPIX monomethyl ester


NADPH:thioredoxin reductase C




Phytochrome Interacting Factor


Protoporphyrin IX


Prolamellar body




Snowy cotyledon 1 mutant, SCO encodes a chloroplast-localized elongation factor


Genes encoding SIGMA factors



The authors apologize in advance to all investigators whose contributions in this field could not be directly cited owing to space limitations. K. Solymosi thanks Prof. Béla Böddi (Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary) for encouraging and supporting her work and the University of Burgundy for the temporary invitation as assistant lecturer. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments and corrections.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Anatomy, Institute of BiologyEötvös UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.UMR 1088 INRA/CNRS 5184/UB Plante-Microbe-EnvironnementINRA-CMSEDijon CedexFrance

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