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The chloroplast envelope triose-phosphate/phosphate translocator (TPT) is responsible for carbohydrate export during photosynthesis. Using measurements of carbohydrates, partitioning of assimilated 14CO2, photosynthetic gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence, we show that a mutant of Arabidopsis lacking the TPT increases synthesis of starch compared to the wild type, thereby compensating for a deficiency in its ability to export triose-phosphate from the chloroplast. However, during growth under high light, the capacity for starch synthesis becomes limiting so that the chloroplastic phosphate pool is depleted, resulting in a restriction on electron transport, a reduction in the rate of photosynthesis, and slowed plant growth. Under the same conditions but not under low light, we observe release of 14C label from starch, indicating that its synthesis and degradation occur simultaneously in the light. The induction of starch turnover in the mutant specifically under high light conditions leads us to conclude that it is regulated by one or more metabolic signals, which arise as a result of phosphate limitation of photosynthesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Plant Physiol

Publication Date





891 - 906


Arabidopsis, Carbohydrate Metabolism, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Radioisotopes, Chlorophyll, Chloroplast Proteins, Chloroplasts, Electron Transport, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Light, Membrane Transport Proteins, Mutation, Photosynthesis, Plant Leaves, Plant Proteins, Signal Transduction, Starch, Transcription, Genetic