Biosynthesis and Function of Chloroplast Lipids

  • Mie Shimojima
  • Hiroyuki OhtaEmail author
  • Yuki Nakamura
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 30)


Chloroplast membranes are composed of four unique lipids, including monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG), digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG), sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol (SQDG) and phosphatidyl-glycerol (PG). These lipids are crucial for maintaining the function of chloroplasts not simply because they account for a large fraction of the photosynthetic membranes, but because they are assembled into the photosynthetic machinery and are, therefore, directly involved in photosynthetic processes. Indeed, Ara-bidopsis mutants of these lipids possess some photosynthetic defects. Diacylglycerol (DAG), a common precursor of the glycolipids, is produced by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic pathways but the detailed mechanism of DAG supply to chloroplasts remains ambiguous. Because most of the genes encoding the lipid-synthesizing enzymes have been identified in this decade, significant progress delineating the physiological functions and regulatory mechanisms of lipid biosynthesis in chloroplasts has been achieved. In Arabidopsis, two types of MGDG synthases, Type A (AtMGD1) and Type B (AtMGD2, AtMGD3), were identified and their distinct functions in chloroplasts have been unveiled. Type A MGDG synthase is involved in the bulk of MGDG synthesis whereas Type B MGDG synthase is induced under phosphate (Pi)-limited conditions. Two genes, DGD1 and DGD2, for DGDG synthases, which are involved in DGDG synthesis, were identified. DGD1 is the predominant DGDG synthase whereas DGD2 is induced under Pi-limited growth conditions. SQDG synthesis is mediated by two enzymes, SQD1 and SQD2. The key enzyme for PG synthesis is PG phosphate synthase, which is encoded by two genes, PGP1 and PGP2. Plants have homeostatic mechanisms to balance the amount of these lipids by regulating their biosyntheses under various environmental conditions, such as limiting Pi, which stimulates replacement of phospholipids with glycolipids through regulation of enzymes involved in lipid biosynthesis.


Phosphatidic Acid Envelope Membrane Chloroplast Lipid Lipid Phosphate Phosphatase Outer Envelope Membrane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.







Digalactosyldiacylglycerol synthase




Endoplasmic reticulum


Ferredoxin-dependent glutamate synthase


Lipid phosphate phosphatase




Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol synthase


Non-specific phospholipase C


Phosphatidic acid


Phosphatidic acid phosphatase








Phosphatidylglycerol phosphate






Phospholipase C


Phospholipase D




Sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol synthase


Uridine diphosphate-galactose


Uridine diphosphate-sulfoquinovose


Uridine diphosphate-sulfoquinovose synthase



The MGDG and DAG research performed in the Ohta lab has been supported, in part, by a Grand-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas Nos.17051009, 18056007, 19039010 and 20053005 from MEXT of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biological Resources and InformaticsTokyo Institute of TechnologyMidori-kuJapan
  2. 2.Research Center for the Evolving Earth and PlanetsTokyo Institute of TechnologyMidori-kuJapan
  3. 3.Temasek Life Sciences LaboratoryNational University of SingaporeSingapore

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