Chloroplast DNA dynamics: Copy number, quality control and degradation

Wataru Sakamoto, Tsuneaki Takami

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Endosymbiotically originated chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) encodes part of the genetic information needed to fulfill chloroplast function, including fundamental processes such as photosynthesis. In the last two decades, advances in genome analysis led to the identification of a considerable number of cpDNA sequences from various species. While these data provided the consensus features of cpDNA organization and chloroplast evolution in plants, how cpDNA is maintained through development and is inherited remains to be fully understood. In particular, the fact that cpDNA exists as multiple copies despite its limited genetic capacity raises the important question of how copy number is maintained or whether cpDNA is subjected to quantitative fluctuation or even developmental degradation. For example, cpDNA is abundant in leaves, where it forms punctate structures called nucleoids, which seemingly alter their morphologies and numbers depending on the developmental status of the chloroplast. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of 'cpDNA dynamics', focusing on the changes in DNA abundance. A special focus is given to the cpDNA degradation mechanism, which appears to be mediated by Defective in Pollen organelle DNA degradation 1 (DPD1), a recently discovered organelle exonuclease. The physiological significance of cpDNA degradation in flowering plants is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1127
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Endosymbiotic organelles
  • Exonuclease
  • Leaf senescence
  • Nucleoid
  • Pollen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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