The Plastome and Chloroplast Biogenesis
The most important feature that distinguishes plants from animals is the possession of chloroplasts. These organelles are responsible for the generation of energy and reducing power used to fix CO2. They are also involved in the metabolism of nitrogen, sulphur, lipids, and some plant hormones. Questions concerning the origin, development, and function of chloroplasts have occupied plant scientists for much of the present century. It is now clear that these organelles arose during evolution by the development of an endosymbiotic relationship between free-living photosynthetic organisms and the ancestors of modern plant cells. Within the last 25 years we have moved from the discovery of chloroplast DNA to a complete description of the chloroplast genetic system using techniques of biochemistry and molecular biology. These studies have shown that the present-day chloroplasts are integrated harmoniously into the physiological and biochemical processes of plant cells and that this integration has involved the exchange of genetic information between different cell compartments.
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