Open Access Open Badges Research article

Exploring mechanisms linked to differentiation and function of dimorphic chloroplasts in the single cell C4 species Bienertia sinuspersici

Josh Rosnow1, Pradeep Yerramsetty2, James O Berry2, Thomas W Okita3 and Gerald E Edwards1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4236, USA

2 Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA

3 Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6340, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-34

Published: 21 January 2014



In the model single-cell C4 plant Bienertia sinuspersici, chloroplast- and nuclear-encoded photosynthetic enzymes, characteristically confined to either bundle sheath or mesophyll cells in Kranz-type C4 leaves, all occur together within individual leaf chlorenchyma cells. Intracellular separation of dimorphic chloroplasts and key enzymes within central and peripheral compartments allow for C4 carbon fixation analogous to NAD-malic enzyme (NAD-ME) Kranz type species. Several methods were used to investigate dimorphic chloroplast differentiation in B. sinuspersici.


Confocal analysis revealed that Rubisco-containing chloroplasts in the central compartment chloroplasts (CCC) contained more photosystem II proteins than the peripheral compartment chloroplasts (PCC) which contain pyruvate,Pi dikinase (PPDK), a pattern analogous to the cell type-specific chloroplasts of many Kranz type NAD-ME species. Transient expression analysis using GFP fusion constructs containing various lengths of a B. sinuspersici Rubisco small subunit (RbcS) gene and the transit peptide of PPDK revealed that their import was not specific to either chloroplast type. Immunolocalization showed the rbcL-specific mRNA binding protein RLSB to be selectively localized to the CCC in B. sinuspersici, and to Rubisco-containing BS chloroplasts in the closely related Kranz species Suaeda taxifolia. Comparative fluorescence analyses were made using redox-sensitive and insensitive GFP forms, as well comparative staining using the peroxidase indicator 3,3-diaminobenzidine (DAB), which demonstrated differences in stromal redox potential, with the CCC having a more negative potential than the PCC.


Both CCC RLSB localization and the differential chloroplast redox state are suggested to have a role in post-transcriptional rbcL expression.

Single-cell C4 photosynthesis; Bienertia sinuspersici; Dimorphic chloroplasts; Chloroplast differentiation