Leucoplasts: a distinct kind of organelles lacking typical 70S ribosomes and free thylakoids

Eur J Cell Biol. 1984 May;34(1):18-26.


Non-pigmented plastids were observed in fully differentiated cells from leaves and stem tissues of various species. Although showing important differences in size and shape, these plastids exhibit permanent structural features which allow to get them together as a distinct kind of organelles: the leucoplasts. Leucoplasts are distinct from the proplastids and every intermediate stage of plastid differentiation, from white chromoplasts and tuber amyloplasts. Mature leucoplasts do not contain an autonomous central system of thylakoids structurally independent from the envelope and, therefore, are never green. However, the envelope inner membrane invaginates within the plastid a cisternal or tubular stroma reticulum connected with the intermembrane space of the envelope. In addition, the leucoplast stroma is often less dense than chloroplasts stroma and contain several nucleoids with DNA fibrils. However, 70S ribosomes either scattered in the stroma or attached to the stroma reticulum or the envelope are not visible in ultrathin sections of leucoplasts stained with uranyl and lead. The existence of more discrete particles as dense as ribosomes is suggested. The relationship between the absence of ribosomes and thylakoids is discussed. Except for their specific role in C10 monoterpene synthesis in glandular cells, the functions of leucoplasts in plant cells remains largely up to now a matter of conjecture.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / analysis
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Organoids / ultrastructure*
  • Plants / ultrastructure*
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure*


  • DNA