Use of the DNA-specific fluorochrome 4'6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) makes it possible to examine in situ the structure of chloroplast DNA (chDNA) with the fluorescence microscope. This simplifies the study of genetic and developmental changes in chloroplast DNA. Three examples are presented. (a) Wild-type Euglena gracilis B contains several chloroplast DNA nucleoids per chloroplast. A yellow mutant lacking functional chloroplasts is similar, but such nucleoids are absent in an aplastidic mutant strain known from biochemical studies to have lost its chDNA. (b) In vegetative cells of the giant-celled marine algae Acetabularia and Batophora, only about a quarter of the chloroplasts have even one discernible chloroplast DNA particle, and such particles vary in size, showing a 30-fold variation in the amount of DNA-bound DAPI fluorescence detected per chloroplast. By contrast, 98% of chloroplasts in developing Acetabularia cysts contain chDNA, with as many as nine nucleoids per chloroplast. (c) DAPI-stained chloroplasts of chromophyte algae display the peripheral ring of DNA expected from electron microscope studies. However, these rings are not uniform in thickness, but are necklace-like, with the appearance of beads on a string. Since the multiple nucleoids in plastids of chlorophyte algae also appear to be interconnected throughout the chloroplast, a common structural plan may underlie chDNA morphology in both groups of algae.

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