Green Genes – DNA in (and out of) chloroplasts: an article for post-16 students


One of a series of three articles written specifically for post-16 biology students, this resource introduces students to some of the complexities of how plants detect and react to light. The resource can be used either as a homework for the whole class, or to challenge individual students to think more deeply about some of the material they have learnt so far.

Chloroplasts evolved from photosynthetic bacteria living inside the primitive ancestors of plant cells. Reflecting their origin, chloroplasts still resemble bacteria: they carry their own DNA and possess some of their original bacterial genes. Researchers have found, however, that most ‘chloroplast’ genes are no longer inside chloroplasts – during evolution, thousands of genes moved from chloroplast DNA to DNA in the cell nucleus. Now biologists are piecing together how and why this natural genetic engineering occurred.

This article for post-16 students is written by science writer and New Scientist journalist Stephen Day.

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