Ion Channels in Plant Bioenergetic Organelles, Chloroplasts and Mitochondria: From Molecular Identification to Function

Luca Carraretto, Enrico Teardo, Vanessa Checchetto, Giovanni Finazzi, Nobuyuki Uozumi, Ildiko Szabo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Recent technical advances in electrophysiological measurements, organelle-targeted fluorescence imaging, and organelle proteomics have pushed the research of ion transport a step forward in the case of the plant bioenergetic organelles, chloroplasts and mitochondria, leading to the molecular identification and functional characterization of several ion transport systems in recent years. Here we focus on channels that mediate relatively high-rate ion and water flux and summarize the current knowledge in this field, focusing on targeting mechanisms, proteomics, electrophysiology, and physiological function. In addition, since chloroplasts evolved from a cyanobacterial ancestor, we give an overview of the information available about cyanobacterial ion channels and discuss the evolutionary origin of chloroplast channels. The recent molecular identification of some of these ion channels allowed their physiological functions to be studied using genetically modified Arabidopsis plants and cyanobacteria. The view is emerging that alteration of chloroplast and mitochondrial ion homeostasis leads to organelle dysfunction, which in turn significantly affects the energy metabolism of the whole organism. Clear-cut identification of genes encoding for channels in these organelles, however, remains a major challenge in this rapidly developing field. Multiple strategies including bioinformatics, cell biology, electrophysiology, use of organelle-targeted ion-sensitive probes, genetics, and identification of signals eliciting specific ion fluxes across organelle membranes should provide a better understanding of the physiological role of organellar channels and their contribution to signaling pathways in plants in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-395
Number of pages25
JournalMolecular Plant
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 7


  • Key words ion channels
  • chloroplasts
  • cyanobacteria
  • endosymbiosis
  • mitochondria
  • plant physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science


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