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Mitochondrion. 2008 Jan;8(1):87-99. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Interaction between photosynthesis and respiration in illuminated leaves.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Plants are sessile organisms that often receive excessive amounts of light energy. This excess energy can be exported from the chloroplasts and dissipated by the mitochondrial respiratory chain. The inner membrane of plant mitochondria possesses unique non-phosphorylating pathways, involving alternative oxidase and type II NAD(P)H dehydrogenases. There are accumulating amounts of evidence showing that these energy-wasteful pathways are up-regulated under excess light conditions, suggesting that they play key roles in efficient photosynthesis. Based on recent advances in our understanding about the metabolic interaction between chloroplasts and mitochondria, we discuss the importance of the respiratory chain for stabilizing the photosynthetic system.

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