Essentiality of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism for photosynthesis: optimization of carbon assimilation and protection against photoinhibition

Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2002;37(2):71-119. doi: 10.1080/10409230290771465.


The review emphasizes the essentiality of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism for photosynthetic carbon assimilation. Photosynthetic activity in chloroplasts and oxidative metabolism in mitochondria interact with each other and stimulate their activities. During light, the partially modified TCA cycle supplies oxoglutarate to cytosol and chloroplasts. The marked stimulation of O2 uptake after few minutes of photosynthetic activity, termed as light enhanced dark respiration (LEDR), is now a well-known phenomenon. Both the cytochrome and alternative pathways of mitochondrial electron transport are important in such interactions. The function of chloroplast is optimized by the complementary nature of mitochondrial metabolism in multiple ways: facilitation of export of excess reduced equivalents from chloroplasts, shortening of photosynthetic induction, maintenance of photorespiratory activity, and supply of ATP for sucrose biosynthesis as well as other cytosolic needs. Further, the mitochondrial oxidative electron transport and phosphorylation also protects chloroplasts against photoinhibition. Besides mitochondrial respiration, reducing equivalents (and ATP) are used for other metabolic phenomena, such as sulfur or nitrogen metabolism and photorespiration. These reactions often involve peroxisomes and cytosol. The beneficial interaction between chloroplasts and mitochondria therefore extends invariably to also peroxisomes and cytosol. While the interorganelle exchange of metabolites is the known basis of such interaction, further experiments are warranted to identify other biochemical signals between them. The uses of techniques such as on-line mass spectrometric measurement, novel mutants/transgenics, and variability in metabolism by growth conditions hold a high promise to help the plant biologist to understand this

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Citric Acid Cycle / physiology
  • Electron Transport / physiology
  • Light*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Sucrose / metabolism
  • Temperature


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Sucrose
  • Carbon
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Oxygen