In this report we describe two nonallelic Mendelian protoporphyrin accumulating mutants brs-1 and brc-1. Results of experiments with these mutants lead us to postulate that porphyrin biosynthesis branches into light and dark steps between protoporphyrin-IX and magnesium protoporphyrin. We hypothesize that the brc locus controls a dark step while the brs locus either controls a step in the main pathway before the branch or mediates the preparation of the magnesium ion for its insertion into protoporphyrin-IX. The brs-1 mutant is thought to be light sensitive because a block prior to the branch point in the porphyrin pathway prevents chlorophyll formation in either the light or the dark. The brc-1 mutant, which also accumulates protoporphyrin in the dark, forms chlorophyll and chloroplast lamellae when transferred to the light, showing that function of the porphyrin pathway is normal in the light.

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