Chlororespiration has been defined as a respiratory electron transport chain (ETC) in interaction with the photosynthetic ETC in thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts. The existence of chlororespiration has been disputed during the last decade, with the initial evidence mainly obtained with intact algal cells being possibly explained by redox interactions between chloroplasts and mitochondria. The discovery in higher-plant chloroplasts of a plastid-encoded NAD(P)H-dehydrogenase (Ndh) complex, homologous to the bacterial complex I, and of a nuclear-encoded plastid terminal oxidase (PTOX), homologous to the plant mitochondrial alternative oxidase, brought molecular support to the concept of chlororespiration. The functionality of these proteins in nonphotochemical reduction and oxidation of plastoquinones (PQs), respectively, has recently been demonstrated. In thylakoids of mature chloroplasts, chlororespiration appears to be a relatively minor pathway compared to linear photosynthetic electron flow from HO to NADP+. However, chlororespiration might play a role in the regulation of photosynthesis by modulating the activity of cyclic electron flow around photosystem I (PS I). In nonphotosynthetic plastids, chlororespiratory electron carriers are more abundant and may play a significant bioenergetic role.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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