Incorporation of 5‐aminolevulinic acid into chlorophyll in darkness in barley

Nicolle Packer, Heather Adamson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The incorporation of radioactive aminolevulinic acid (ALA) into chlorophyll (Chl) a and b, as well as protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) in light‐grown barley seedlings (Hordeum vulgare L. cv. Clipper) transferred to darkness is demonstrated. In the experiments described, 6‐day‐old, glasshouse‐grown seedlings were transferred to darkness and incubated in [14C]‐ or [3H]‐ ALA for 18 h. Chl a and b were extracted and purified to constant specific radioactivity by HPLC and TLC of their magnesium‐free derivatives, pheophytin a and b. The presence of label in the tetrapyrrole ring of the Chls was established by removal of the phytol chain by alkaline hydrolysis and determination of the specific radioactivity of the chlorin e6 and rhodin g7 derivatives. Barley seedlings that had been grown in darkness for 5 days, transferred to light for 20 h, and then returned to darkness in the presence of radioactive ALA also incorporated label into Chl. However, this was only apparent in intact seedlings. Excised leaves from greened etiolated plants did not incorporate ALA into Chl in darkness. This was consistent with the finding of Apel et al. (K. Apel, M. Motzkus and K. Dehesh, 1984. Planta 161: 550–554) and may account for their failure to obtain evidence for a light‐independent protochlorophyllide reductase in greening barley. Although the incorporation of ALA into Chl compared to Pchlide was slight (5%), the presence of label in the tetrapyrrole nucleus of Chl a and b is unequivocal evidence of a light‐independent pathway of Chl biosynthesis in barley that has been exposed to light during development. Limited entry of exogenous labelled ALA into the precursor pools leading to the dark reduction of Pchlide is postulated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)222-230
    Number of pages9
    JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1986


    • chlorophyll biosynthesis (dark)
    • tetrapyrrole ring


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