Moderate heat stress of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves causes chloroplast swelling and plastoglobule formation

Photosynth Res. 2010 Aug;105(2):123-34. doi: 10.1007/s11120-010-9572-6. Epub 2010 Jun 19.


Photosynthesis is inhibited by heat stress. This inhibition is rapidly reversible when heat stress is moderate but irreversible at higher temperature. Absorbance changes can be used to detect a variety of biophysical parameters in intact leaves. We found that moderate heat stress caused a large reduction of the apparent absorbance of green light in light-adapted, intact Arabidopsis thaliana leaves. Three mechanisms that can affect green light absorbance of leaves, namely, zeaxanthin accumulation (absorbance peak at 505 nm), the electrochromic shift (ECS) of carotenoid absorption spectra (peak at 518 nm), and light scattering (peak at 535 nm) were investigated. The change of green light absorbance caused by heat treatment was not caused by changes of zeaxanthin content nor by the ECS. The formation of non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), chloroplast movements, and chloroplast swelling and shrinkage can all affect light scattering inside leaves. The formation of NPQ under high temperature was not well correlated with the heat-induced absorbance change, and light microscopy revealed no appreciable changes of chloroplast location because of heat treatment. Transmission electron microscopy results showed swollen chloroplasts and increased number of plastoglobules in heat-treated leaves, indicating that the structural changes of chloroplasts and thylakoids are significant results of moderate heat stress and may explain the reduced apparent absorbance of green light under moderately high temperature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorption / radiation effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / radiation effects
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / radiation effects
  • Chloroplasts / ultrastructure
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Response / physiology*
  • Heat-Shock Response / radiation effects
  • Heating
  • Light
  • Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Photochemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure


  • Lipids
  • Carbon Dioxide