• GARP genes;
  • transcription factors;
  • chloroplasts;
  • gene redundancy


Chloroplast biogenesis is a complex process that requires close co-ordination between two genomes. Many of the proteins that accumulate in the chloroplast are encoded by the nuclear genome, and the developmental transition from proplastid to chloroplast is regulated by nuclear genes. Here we show that a pair of Golden 2-like (GLK) genes regulates chloroplast development in Arabidopsis. The GLK proteins are members of the GARP superfamily of transcription factors, and phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that the maize, rice and Arabidopsis GLK gene pairs comprise a distinct group within the GARP superfamily. Further phylogenetic analysis suggests that the gene pairs arose through separate duplication events in the monocot and dicot lineages. As in rice, AtGLK1 and AtGLK2 are expressed in partially overlapping domains in photosynthetic tissue. Insertion mutants demonstrate that this expression pattern reflects a degree of functional redundancy as single mutants display normal phenotypes in most photosynthetic tissues. However, double mutants are pale green in all photosynthetic tissues and chloroplasts exhibit a reduction in granal thylakoids. Products of several genes involved in light harvesting also accumulate at reduced levels in double mutant chloroplasts. GLK genes therefore regulate chloroplast development in diverse plant species.