Variegation mutants offer excellent opportunities to study interactions between the nucleus-cytoplasm, the chloroplast, and the mitochondrion. Variegation in the immutans (im) mutant of Arabidopsis is induced by a nuclear recessive gene and the extent of variegation can be modulated by light and temperature. Whereas the green sectors have morphologically normal chloroplasts, the white sectors are devoid of pigments and accumulate a colourless carotenoid, phytoene. The green sectors are hypothesized to arise from cells that have avoided irreversible photooxidative damage whereas the white sectors originate from cells that are photooxidized. Cloning of the IMMUTANS (IM) gene has revealed that IMMUTANS (IM) is a plastid homologue of the mitochondrial alternative oxidase. This finding suggested a model in which IM functions as a redox component of the phytoene desaturation pathway, which requires phytoene desaturase activity. Consistent with this idea, IM has quinol oxidase activity in vitro. Recent studies have revealed that IM plays a more global role in plastid metabolism. For example, it appears to be the elusive terminal oxidase of chlororespiration and also functions as a light stress protein.