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Chloroplast avoidance movement reduces photodamage in plants


When plants are exposed to light levels higher than those required for photosynthesis, reactive oxygen species are generated in the chloroplasts and cause photodamage. This can occur even under natural growth conditions. To mitigate photodamage, plants have developed several protective mechanisms1,2,3. One is chloroplast avoidance movement4,5,6, in which chloroplasts move from the cell surface to the side walls of cells under high light conditions, although experimental support is still awaited7,8. Here, using different classes of mutant defective in chloroplast avoidance movement, we show that these mutants are more susceptible to damage in high light than wild-type plants. Damage of the photosynthetic apparatus and subsequent bleaching of leaf colour and necrosis occur faster under high light conditions in the mutants than in wild-type plants. We conclude that chloroplast avoidance movement actually decreases the amount of light absorption by chloroplasts, and might therefore be important to the survival of plants under natural growth conditions.

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Figure 1: Chloroplast movement in Arabidopsis mutant cells.
Figure 2: Phenotypes of plants exposed to continuous strong light.
Figure 3: Inhibition and recovery kinetics of PSII photochemistry.


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We thank J. Silverthorne (University of California, Santa Cruz) and S. Christensen (Tokyo Metropolitan University) for critical reading of the manuscript, and N. Murata (National Institute for Basic Biology, Japan) for use of the PAM-2000 system. This work was partly supported by BRAIN (Program for Promotion of Basic Research Activities for Innovative Biosciences) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan to M.W., and by PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Japan, to T.K.

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Correspondence to Masamitsu Wada.

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Kasahara, M., Kagawa, T., Oikawa, K. et al. Chloroplast avoidance movement reduces photodamage in plants. Nature 420, 829–832 (2002).

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