Introduction

Plastids form a distinct group of organelles in higher and lower plants and are one of the defining characteristics by which plants are different to animals. For many years, most plastid based research focused on the chloroplast and trying to understand the mechanism of photosynthesis and the biochemical interactions of the chloroplast with the cell. With the advent of molecular biology and more recently, a variety of novel imaging techniques, a better understanding of how the chloro-plast and other plastid types function within the cell in a truly biological manner is starting to emerge. Even so, the chloroplast remains dominant in providing the bulk of our knowledge about plastid biology. In this article, I consider the structure and morphology of the chloroplast and a range of other plastid types as well as how plastids differentiate and undergo interconversions. Finally, I discuss two fields in plastid biology, which have progressed significantly in recent years, namely plastid division and the biology of stromules.

Topics in Current Genetics, Vol. 19 R. Bock (Ed.): Cell and Molecular Biology of Plastids DOI 10.1007/4735_2007_0226 / Published online: 22 May 2007 © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

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