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Annu Rev Genet. 2004;38:119-73.

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in the landscape of pigments.

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  • 1The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


This review focuses on the biosynthesis of pigments in the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and their physiological and regulatory functions in the context of information gathered from studies of other photosynthetic organisms. C. reinhardtii is serving as an important model organism for studies of photosynthesis and the pigments associated with the photosynthetic apparatus. Despite extensive information pertaining to the biosynthetic pathways critical for making chlorophylls and carotenoids, we are just beginning to understand the control of these pathways, the coordination between pigment and apoprotein synthesis, and the interactions between the activities of these pathways and those for other important cellular metabolites branching from these pathways. Other exciting areas relating to pigment function are also emerging: the role of intermediates of pigment biosynthesis as messengers that coordinate metabolism in the chloroplast with nuclear gene activity, and the identification of photoreceptors and their participation in critical cellular processes including phototaxis, gametogenesis, and the biogenesis of the photosynthetic machinery. These areas of research have become especially attractive for intensive development with the application of potent molecular and genomic tools currently being applied to studies of C. reinhardtii.

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