Plastid Signaling During the Plant Life Cycle

Plastid Function as Developmental Reporter and Environmental Sensor in Plant Growth and Acclimation
  • Thomas PfannschmidtEmail author
  • Sergi Munné-Bosch
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 36)


Plastids are semi-autonomous organelles of endosymbiotic origin. They possess their own DNA and a complete machinery to express the encoded information on it. However, the genome size is limited to about 120 genes encoding mainly components of the gene expression and photosynthesis machineries. For complete functionality, therefore, plastids largely depend on the import of cytosolic proteins since all plastid protein complexes are comprised of a mosaic of plastid and nuclear encoded components. Proper development and function of plastids, thus, requires a tight coordination of gene expression in the genetic compartments of a plant cell. This coordination is obtained by (1) nucleus-to-plastid signals which guarantee an appropriate establishment of the plastid type according to the tissues context of the plant cell, and by (2) plastid-to-nucleus signals which report the actual developmental and functional stage of the plastids to the nucleus. This mutual communication controls the expression of appropriate genes providing the right gene products required for the respective condition. Plastidial signals can be distinguished into distinct classes covering signals from (1) plastid gene expression, (2) pigment biosynthesis pathways, (3) pools of reactive oxygen species, (4) redox states of photosynthetic components and (5) metabolic intermediates such as sugars. This classification is mainly focused on the experimental system in which the respective plastid signal has been analyzed rather than describing the signal itself. In this review we follow a different strategy and summarize the current knowledge on plastid signaling according to the developmental stage of the plastids. We distinguish between signals from early plastid development, from mature plastids and from plastids being degraded during senescence. This also includes the action of three important plant hormones synthesized partly in the plastids, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid and abscisic acid. By this way we follow the plant’s life cycle and put the roles of plastidial signals into a functional and developmental context which provides novel insights into the fascinating research field of intracellular signaling.


Salicylic Acid Guard Cell Jasmonic Acid Leaf Senescence Carotenoid Biosynthesis 
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.



Abscisic acid;


Amino levulinic acid;


Reduced glutathione;


Jasmonic acid;


Magnesium-protoporphyrin IX;




Reactive oxygen species;


Salicylic acid



Work in the laboratories of the authors has been supported by grants from the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” to T.P. (PF 323-4, PF 323-5) and from the Spanish Government and Generalitat de Catalunya to S.M.B. (BFU2009-07294-E, BFU2009-06045, CSD2008-00040 and ICREA Academia prize).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble, Laboratoire de Physiologie et Végétale (LPCV)UJF/CNRS (UMR5168)/INRA (USC1359)/CEA GRENOBLEGrenoble CEDEX9France
  2. 2.Departament de Biologia Vegetal, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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