Stress-induced changes in the ultrastructure of the photosynthetic apparatus of green microalgae

Olga Gorelova, Olga Baulina, Tatiana Ismagulova, Kamilya Kokabi, Elena Lobakova, Irina Selyakh, Larisa Semenova, Olga Chivkunova, Olga Karpova, Pavel Scherbakov, Inna Khozin-Goldberg, Alexei Solovchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In photosynthetic organisms including unicellular algae, acclimation to and damage by environmental stresses are readily apparent at the level of the photosynthetic apparatus. Phenotypic manifestations of the stress responses include rapid and dramatic reduction of photosynthetic activity and pigment content aimed at mitigating the risk of photooxidative damage. Although the physiological and molecular mechanisms of these events are well known, the ultrastructural picture of the stress responses is often elusive and frequently controversial. We analyzed an extensive set of transmission electron microscopy images of the microalgal cells obtained across species of Chlorophyta and in a wide range of growth conditions. The results of the analysis allowed us to pinpoint distinct ultrastructural changes typical of normal functioning and emergency reduction of the chloroplast membrane system under high light exposure and/or mineral nutrient starvation. We demonstrate the patterns of the stress-related ultrastructural changes including peculiar thylakoid rearrangements and autophagy-like processes and provide an outlook on their significance for implementation of the stress responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-277
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Jan 2019


  • Chlorophyll degradation
  • Chloroplast
  • Glycolipids
  • Microalgae
  • Nutrient starvation
  • Thylakoid reorganization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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