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Plant Physiol. 1987 Apr;83(4):920-5.

Characterization of a virescent chloroplast mutant of tobacco.

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  • 1Section of Genetics and Development, Bradfield Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


Virescent mutations produce plants in which young leaves have reduced chlorophyll levels but accumulate nearly normal amounts of chlorophyll as they age; they are predominantly nuclear mutations. We describe here a virescent mutation (designated Vir-c) found in a somatic hybrid line derived from Nicotiana tabacum L. and Nicotiana suaveolens Lehm. This mutation is inherited maternally. Young, half-expanded Vir-c leaves contained three to six times less chlorophyll than did control leaves, and reached maximum chlorophyll levels much later in development. Chlorophyll synthesis rates and chloroplast numbers per cell in Vir-c were similar to the control, and carotenoid content in Vir-c was sufficient to protect chlorophyll from photo-oxidation. Photosynthetic rates of Vir-c at low light intensities suggested a reduced ability to collect light. Electron micrographs of Vir-c chloroplasts from half-expanded leaves showed a significant reduction in thylakoids per granum. The decrease in granal thylakoids was strongly associated with low chlorophyll levels; mature Vir-c leaves with nearly normal chlorophyll content showed normal granal profiles. These results are discussed in relation to virescent mutants previously described.

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