Membrane heredity and early chloroplast evolution

Trends Plant Sci. 2000 Apr;5(4):174-82. doi: 10.1016/s1360-1385(00)01598-3.


Membrane heredity was central to the unique symbiogenetic origin from cyanobacteria of chloroplasts in the ancestor of Plantae (green plants, red algae, glaucophytes) and to subsequent lateral transfers of plastids to form even more complex photosynthetic chimeras. Each symbiogenesis integrated disparate genomes and several radically different genetic membranes into a more complex cell. The common ancestor of Plantae evolved transit machinery for plastid protein import. In later secondary symbiogeneses, signal sequences were added to target proteins across host perialgal membranes: independently into green algal plastids (euglenoids, chlorarachneans) and red algal plastids (alveolates, chromists). Conservatism and innovation during early plastid diversification are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / genetics*
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plastics / metabolism
  • Symbiosis


  • Plastics