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Plant J. 1998 Aug;15(4):521-30.

Polyunsaturated membranes are required for photosynthetic competence in a mutant of Arabidopsis.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6340, USA.


High levels of polyunsaturation are characteristic of all the membranes of plant and animal cells. For example, the chloroplasts of leaf cells contain about 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids. For the extra-chloroplast membranes in leaf cells and the membranes of non-photosynthetic tissues, values of 60-65% are typical. We report here the production of Arabidopsis double mutants that contain negligible levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The mutants were not capable of autotrophic growth and produced extremely chlorotic cotyledons and leaves. However, on sucrose media, the double mutants were robust plants showing strong leaf and root development. These observations indicate that the vast majority of receptor-mediated and transport-related membrane functions required to sustain the organism and induce proper development are adequately supported in the absence of polyunsaturated lipids. By contrast, photosynthesis is one process that does require high levels of membrane polyunsaturation.

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