Photosynthetic organisms exhibit a green color due to the accumulation of chlorophyll pigments in chloroplasts. Mg-protoporphyrin IX chelatase (Mg-chelatase) comprises three subunits (ChlH, ChlD and ChlI) and catalyzes the insertion of Mg(2+) into protoporphyrin IX, the last common intermediate precursor in both chlorophyll and heme biosyntheses, to produce Mg-protoporphyrin IX (MgProto). Chlorophyll deficiency in higher plants results in chlorina (yellowish-green) phenotype. To date, 10 chlorina (chl) mutants have been isolated in rice, but the corresponding genes have not yet been identified. Rice Chl1 and Chl9 genes were mapped to chromosome 3 and isolated by map-based cloning. A missense mutation occurred in a highly conserved amino acid of ChlD in the chl1 mutant and ChlI in the chl9 mutant. Ultrastructural analyses have revealed that the grana are poorly stacked, resulting in the underdevelopment of chloroplasts. In the seedlings fed with aminolevulinate-dipyridyl in darkness, MgProto levels in the chl1 and chl9 mutants decreased up to 25% and 31% of that in wild-type, respectively, indicating that the Mg-chelatase activity is significantly reduced, causing the eventual decrease in chlorophyll synthesis. Furthermore, Northern blot analysis indicated that the nuclear genes encoding the three subunits of Mg-chelatase and LhcpII in chl1 mutant are expressed about 2-fold higher than those in WT, but are not altered in the chl9 mutant. This result indicates that the ChlD subunit participates in negative feedback regulation of plastid-to-nucleus in the expression of nuclear genes encoding chloroplast proteins, but not the ChlI subunit.