The genetic compartments of plant cells, nuclei, plastids and mitochondria exchange information by anterograde (nucleus-to-organelle) and retrograde (organelle-to-nucleus) signalling. These avenues of communication coordinate activities during the organelles' development and function. Despite extensive research retrograde signalling remains poorly understood. The proposed cytosolic signalling pathways and the putative organellar signalling molecules remain elusive, and a clear functional distinction from the signalling cascades of other cellular perception systems (i.e. photoreceptors or phytohormones) is difficult to obtain. Notwithstanding the stagnant progress, some basic assumptions about the process have remained virtually unchanged for many years, potentially obstructing the view on alternative routes for retrograde communication. Here, I critically assess the current models of retrograde signalling and discuss novel ideas and potential connections.
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