This paper describes the morphology and photosynthetic activity of a mutant of Chlamydomonas reinhardi (y-1) which is unable to synthesize chlorophyll in the dark. When grown heterotrophically in the light, the mutant is indistinguishable from the wild type Chlamydomonas. When grown in the dark, chlorophyll is diluted through cell division and the photosynthetic activity (oxygen evolution, Hill reaction, and photoreduction of NADP) decays at a rate equal to or faster than that of chlorophyll dilution. However, soluble enzymes associated with the photosynthetic process (alkaline FDPase, NADP-linked G-3-P dehydrogenase, RuDP carboxylase), as well as cytochrome f and ferredoxin, continue to be present in relatively high concentrations. The enzymes involved in the synthesis of the characteristic lipids of the chloroplast (including mono- and digalactoside glycerides, phosphatidyl glycerol, and sulfolipid) are still detectable in dark-grown cells. Such cells accumulate large amounts of starch granules in their plastids. On onset of illumination, dark-grown cells synthesize chlorophyll rapidly, utilizing their starch reserve in the process. At the morphological level, it was observed that during growth in the dark the chloroplast lamellar system is gradually disorganized and drastically decreased in extent, while other subchloroplast components are either unaffected (pyrenoid and its tubular system, matrix) or much less affected (eyespot, ribosomes). It is concluded that the dark-grown mutant possesses a partially differentiated plastid and the enzymic apparatus necessary for the synthesis of the chloroplast membranes (discs). The advantage provided by such a system for the study of the biogenesis of the chloroplast photosynthetic membranes is discussed.

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