To understand whether fusions of thylakoid membranes from the parental chloroplasts occurred during zygote formation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, we performed an ultrastructural analysis of the zygotes produced by crossing mutants lacking photosystem I or II protein complexes, in the absence of de novo chloroplast protein synthesis. Thylakoid membranes from each parent could be distinguished on thin sections due to their organization in "supergrana" in mutants lacking photosystem I centers, by freeze-fracturing due to the absence of most of the exoplasmic-face (EF) particles in mutants lacking photosystem II centers, by immunocytochemistry using antibodies directed against photosystem II subunits. We demonstrate that a fusion of the thylakoid membranes occurred during zygote formation approximately 15 h after mating. These fusions allowed a lateral redistribution of the thylakoid membrane proteins. These observations provide the structural basis for the restoration of photosynthetic electron flow in the mature zygote that we observed in fluorescence induction experiments.

This content is only available as a PDF.