Wild-type cells of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardi have been grown for several generations in the presence of rifampicin, an inhibitor of chloroplast DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, spectinomycin and chloramphenicol, two inhibitors of protein synthesis on chloroplast ribosomes, and cycloheximide, an inhibitor of protein synthesis on cytoplasmic ribosomes. The effects of cycloheximide are complex, and it is concluded that this inhibitor cannot give meaningful information about the cytoplasmic control over the synthesis of chloroplast components in long-term experiments with C. reinhardi. In the presence of acetate and at the appropriate concentrations, the three inhibitors of chloroplast protein synthesis retard growth rates only slightly and do not affect the synthesis of chlorophyll; however, photosynthetic rates are reduced fourfold after several generations of growth. Each inhibitor produces a similar pattern of lesions in the organization of chloroplast membranes. Only rifampicin prevents the production of chloroplast ribosomes.

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