B io Factsheet
Chloroplasts – Structure and Function
Chloroplasts are the site of photosynthesis in green plants. This is the process by which carbon dioxide and water are converted into organic chemicals using light as a source of energy. Oxygen is produced as a very useful by-product of the reaction. This Factsheet explains how the structure of a chloroplast is designed to enable it to carry out its functions effectively and reviews recent exam questions on this topic The lamellae: • Provide a large surface area for the attachment of the enzymes and co-enzymes involved in the electron transfer chain of the light dependent reactions. Partition the stroma so that different chemical reactions can take place without interfering with each other.
Exam Hint:– Whenever a structure or cell possesses extra membranes it increases the surface area available, in this case for the attachment of extra pigment molecules, but in other cells it can increase the rate of absorption (e.g. microvilli of kidney tubule cells), cristae in mitochondria for attachment of extra stalked particles). The biconvex shape of the chloroplast is yet another way of increasing surface area to maximise absorption of light energy
Fig 1. The structure of a chloroplast
outer membrane inner membrane ribosomes (70S)
Sometimes in the exam you will be presented with an electron micrograph of a chloroplast. Usually, the first question simply asks you to label it.
lipid droplet starch grain intergranal lamella stroma (matrix)
one granum (stack of disk-like thylakoids)
Typical Exam Question Label parts A B & C
Exam Hint: – You may be asked to identify the different structures in a chloroplast so make sure you learn the diagram.
Chloroplasts are organelles bounded by a double membrane – this separates the contents of the chloroplast from the rest of the cell, allowing the photosynthetic reactions to take place without interference from chemicals in the cytoplasm.
Answer B A - stroma; B - granum / grana / thylakoids; C - starch (grain);
Extract from Chief Examiner’s report
Many candidates appear to believe that chlorophyll and chloroplasts are tissues. Plate-like membranes, called lamellae (thylakoids) run along the length of the chloroplast from end to end – these are the site of the light-dependent reactions. Chlorophyll molecules (and other pigment molecules) that absorb light energy are situated on the lamellae. At intervals, extra lamellae are inserted to form structures called grana (singular:granum). A chloroplast contains approximately 3000 lamellae -they increase the surface area available for the attachment of extra pigment molecules to trap more light energy. The pigment molecules are arranged in such a way that they do not shade each other so that the maximum amount of light energy can be absorbed. Pigment molecules absorb light energy which ultimately becomes converted to chemical energy incorporated into the glucose and other compounds produced as a result of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b absorb only certain wavelengths of light and therefore only a certain amount of the energy falling on the chloroplast. Xanthophyll, carotene and phaeophytin are accessory pigments that absorb light of other wavelengths, ensuring more energy is trapped by the chloroplast. The pigment molecules form clusters called photosystems. Each photosystem consists of a central chlorophyll molecule called the primary pigment molecule. Located around this are several hundred accessory pigment molecules – light energy absorbed by all these molecules is transferred to the central primary pigment molecule.
The stroma contains numerous starch grains. These are located near the top of the leaf where most light falls. or in groups called polyribosomes.co.
Exam Hint:– a synoptic question may ask you about the structure of a chloroplast and then go on to the chemical reactions involved. 5.
1. Use your knowledge of cell fractionation and ultracentrifugation to answer this question. 4.curriculum-press. Chloroplasts in (second) pellet. Cold. particularly the enzymes required for the photosynthetic reactions. 8. Chloroplasts – Structure and Function
. mainly in the palisade cells. Centrifuge supernatant. Filter and centrifuge filtrate.
Fig 2. The lamellae are embedded in a watery matrix called the stroma. The light-dependent reactions produce ATP and NADPH which are required for the subsequent synthesis of carbohydrates in the light-independent reactions. This doesn’t make the questions any harder – you just need to keep calm and work them out. Isotonic / same water potential.uk
Isolating chloroplasts Typical Exam Question
Starting with some lettuce leaves. The DNA enables chloroplasts to replicate themselves when the cell divides. 3.The ribosomes occur in the stroma. Ribosomes produce proteins for use by the chloroplasts. The chloroplasts are arranged around the edge of the cell so that light can reach them without having to pass through the cytoplasm. 7. Structure of leaf
Cross section of leaf
chloroplast spongy mesophyll vacuole air space Individual palisade cells contain numerous chloroplasts to trap light energy. The only other structures where this occurs are mitochondria.198. lipid droplets. attached to the lamellae. At higher speed. dissolved salts. Make sure you understand how the following structures are designed to enable photosynthesis to be carried out as efficiently as possible • • • • • • double membrane lamellae pigment molecules stroma DNA ribosomes
Some Chief Examiners like to set questions using unfamiliar diagrams. It is in the stroma that the light-independent reactions take place. ensuring new cells receive the correct number of chloroplasts. enzymes. The possession of DNA and ribosomes by individual organelles is unusual. 2. describe how you would obtain a sample of undamaged chloroplasts.
Chloroplasts are highly specialised cell organelles. Buffer solution. 6. Chop up (accept any reference to crude breaking up). their structure reflecting their function.
In green plants most of the chloroplasts are found in the leaf mesophyll. ribosomes and a circular strand of DNA. so make sure you understand the lightdependent and light-independent reactions.
The diagram shows the arrangement of photosytems in the thylakoid membrane.uk
Untypical ( but real) Exam Question
The light-dependent stage of photosynthesis takes place on thylakoid membranes in chloroplasts. (b) amino acids would be used to synthesise polypeptides. and summarises the processes that take place there. non pigmented vacuole to allow light penetration
ADP + Pi H+
AT P AT P Sythetase
NADPred E A 2e C 2e B
thylakoid H+ H2 O space 2H+ + ½O2 (lumen)
H+ + + H+ H+ H H
(a) What pigment is represented by P680 and P700? (1) (b) Name the type of molecule represented by B. An extract of isolated chloroplasts was obtained. The number of different. large vacuole pushes chloroplasts to edge of cell. so short diffusion pathway/(greater) light penetration.
Describe two ways in which the structure of a chloroplast differs from the structure of this bacterial cell.rays / photographic film. large surface area for.198. Suggest an explanation for this. Data interpretation questions involving photosynthesis experiments and limiting factors are also common. so make sure you revise the light-dependent and light -independent reactions.
chloroplast has no cell wall. air spaces act as reservoir of carbon dioxide. (2 marks)
Typical Exam Question
The diagram shows the structure of a photosynthetic bacterium. Chloroplasts – Structure and Function
Position of chloroplasts in leaf tissue
www. So even though the diagram looked horrific.
Typical Synoptic Question
Chloroplasts contain both polypeptides and ribosomes.co. to reduce number of light absorbing cross walls. An investigation was carried out to determine whether any of these polypeptides were synthesised by chloroplast ribosomes. gas exchange/diffusion. large number of chloroplasts / much chlorophyll. (a) Explain why isotonic saline solution was used to wash the isolated chloroplasts (2 marks) (b) Radioactive amino acids were added to the extract. chloroplasts on periphery of cell to absorb light. chloroplasts can move to prevent damage (in high light intensity) . (c) photolysis (d) increases surface area.
Typical Exam Question
Explain how the palisade mesophyl cells within a leaf are well adapted for photosynthesis closely packed to absorb more of incident light. columnar shape / arranged at right angles to surface of leaf. (2 marks) (c) It was found that more polypeptides were synthesised in the light than in the dark.
These questions require you to pull together your knowledge of different parts of the specification – to do some joined – up Biology thinking. prevent lysis / shrinkage of chloroplasts. to absorb light . air spaces (between cells) to allow circulation of gases.Questions about chloroplasts nearly always link them to other aspects of photosynthesis. e. short (diffusion) path for carbon dioxide. newly synthesised polypeptides produced in this extract was measured after incubating in the light and in the dark.
. starch granules. two membranes surrounding chloroplast.curriculum-press. chloroplasts can move within cells to absorb as much light as possible. These membranes are arranged into stacks known as grana. for absorption of light. the questions were actually very straightforward.
The arrangement of chloroplast-containing cells and tissue within leaves also increases the efficiency of light capture. chloroplasts on periphery of cell. use autoradiography / UV / X. grana/thylakoids. (1) (c) Name the process in which water molecules are split. cylindrical cells resulting in air spaces. Explain why the use of radioactive amino acids would enable the investigators to find and identify the polypeptides which had been newly synthesised.
Exam Hint:.g. (c) ATP from photophosphorylation / photosynthesis/ light dependent reaction needed. cell walls are thin.(2)
(a) prevent excess water entering or leaving the chloroplasts/ same water potential. action and absorption spectra and factors that affect the rate of photosynthesis. (1) (d) What is the advantage of having membranes stacked into grana? (2)
(a) chlorophyll (b) electron carrier / cytochrome / protein / electron acceptor / ferredoxin /plastoquinone. AVP.
biconvex shape. Bio Factsheets may be copied free of charge by teaching staff or students. chlorophyll / pigments. No part of these Factsheets may be reproduced. B stroma. Organelle D
Acknowledgements: This Factsheet was researched and written by Phill Hargrave.
198. pigments ‘funnel’ electrons to centre of photosystem (idea of antennae /). AVP. folded to form cristae. transduction / conversion. electron carriers / ETC system. smaller than those in cytosol / similar in size to prokaryotic ribosomes . ref to (orientation of) chlorophyll in membrane. (Any 3)
4. free / naked. NADP present. Many in a cell.
(b) (i) C. stored in a retrieval system. Explain how chloroplasts carry out photosynthesis. Chloroplasts – Structure and Function
1. ref to storage of starch or lipid. Has an inner membrane. B 2. Wellington. 105 King Street. absence of introns R absence of a nucleus from the chloroplast or mitochondrion R ref to membranous organelles as chloroplasts and mitochondria are these organelles
Organelle found in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells Organelle A
Organelle found in animal cells and in plant cells. other photosynthetic pigments / named pigment(s). Calvin cycle / light independent stage. DNA / DNA not surrounded by membrane / envelope have an inner folded membrane . ribosomes. provide large surface area for attachment of extra pigment molecules.(3) (b) Give the letter of the structure where (i) the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis take place (1) (ii) the light-independent reactions take place (1) (c) Describe three ways in which structure C is adapted for photosynthesis (3)
(c) numerous membranes for attachment of chlorophyll/pigment molecules. (a) A double membrane/envelope. arranged into photosystems / light harvesting complexes (or clusters). grana / thylakoid(s) (membranes). A ref to 70S and 80S circular DNA . in membrane. Contains inner membranes arranged in stacks Organelle B
3. Bank House. ISSN 1351-5136
www. partition stroma to separate chemical reactions. give large surface area. enzymes in stroma. proton pumps / chemiosmosis / ref to movement of hydrogen ions / protons into thylakoid space. B and C.g. photosystem / reaction centre. Organelle C
Smaller organelle surrounded by an outer membrane. double membrane qualified photosystem 1 and 2 have different absorption peaks
4. The diagram below shows the structure of a chloroplast. Shropshire. ref to wavelengths absorbed by chlorophyll (blue + red or 450 + 680 nm). Usually one per cell.
Which organelle is the chloroplast? (1)
(a) Name the parts labelled A. Many biologists believe that both chloroplasts and mitochondria evolved from prokaryotic organisms that inhabited the cytoplasm of eukaryotic host cells. (10 marks)
Suggest two structural features of mitochondria and chloroplasts that are also present in prokaryotic cells (2)
Larger organelle surrounded by an envelope through which there are pores. e. A = accept AVP = acceptable valid points 1large surface area of chloroplast. provided that their school is a registered subscriber. TF1 1NU. chlorophyll (a) molecule at centre of. light dependent reactions / photophosphorylation. Curriculum Press.Answers
1. e. for light absorption / lose excited electrons. qualified.g. ATP production / synthetase / ATP ase. The diagram shows how some organelles may be distinguished from each other. or transmitted. ref to energy. in any other form or by any other means. provide large surface area for attachment of enzymes/coenzymes (involved in light. Does not contain membranes arranged in stacks
Organelle found only in eukaryotic cells
Organelle found in plant cells. as seen using the electron microscope.curriculum-press. pigment molecules absorb light energy.
(ii) B. without the prior permission of the publisher. C lamellae/grana/thylakoid.uk
.co. ref to rubisco. absorb different wavelengths of light.dependent reactions). making proteins. site of. ref DNA / ribosomes. A quantasomes.