Plants grow with a little help from their organelle friends

J Exp Bot. 2016 Dec;67(22):6267-6281. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw399. Epub 2016 Nov 4.


Chloroplasts and mitochondria are indispensable for plant development. They not only provide energy and carbon sources to cells, but also have evolved to become major players in a variety of processes such as amino acid metabolism, hormone biosynthesis and cellular signalling. As semi-autonomous organelles, they contain a small genome that relies largely on nuclear factors for its maintenance and expression. An intensive crosstalk between the nucleus and the organelles is therefore essential to ensure proper functioning, and the nuclear genes encoding organellar proteins involved in photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation are obviously crucial for plant growth. Organ growth is determined by two main cellular processes: cell proliferation and cell expansion. Here, we review how plant growth is affected in mutants of organellar proteins that are differentially expressed during leaf and root development. Our findings indicate a clear role for organellar proteins in plant organ growth, primarily during cell proliferation. However, to date, the role of the nuclear-encoded organellar proteins in the cellular processes driving organ growth has not been investigated in much detail. We therefore encourage researchers to extend their phenotypic characterization beyond macroscopic features in order to get a better view on how chloroplasts and mitochondria regulate the basic processes of cell proliferation and cell expansion, essential to driving growth.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; chloroplast; development; leaf; mitochondria; root..

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Plant Development* / physiology
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / growth & development