When plants are exposed to light levels higher than those required for photosynthesis, reactive oxygen species are generated in the chloroplasts and cause photodamage. This can occur even under natural growth conditions. To mitigate photodamage, plants have developed several protective mechanisms. One is chloroplast avoidance movement, in which chloroplasts move from the cell surface to the side walls of cells under high light conditions, although experimental support is still awaited. Here, using different classes of mutant defective in chloroplast avoidance movement, we show that these mutants are more susceptible to damage in high light than wild-type plants. Damage of the photosynthetic apparatus and subsequent bleaching of leaf colour and necrosis occur faster under high light conditions in the mutants than in wild-type plants. We conclude that chloroplast avoidance movement actually decreases the amount of light absorption by chloroplasts, and might therefore be important to the survival of plants under natural growth conditions.
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