Electron-microscope autoradiography has been used to obtain information on the localization of DNA labelled with [3H]thymidine in chloroplasts known to be replicating and concomitantly synthesizing and segregating DNA, in cultured leaf disks. The studies were made using both Microdol-X developer and a ‘compact’ developer which gave a smaller grain size. About 80% of the grains were associated with the granal membranes and with presumptive DNA regions (3-nm fibril material in clear areas). Few grains occurred in association with the chloroplast envelope. We suggest that the DNA of chloroplasts is associated with the grana lamellae and extends into the stroma. Some light-microscope autoradiographs of whole chloroplasts show spiral or helical-like labelling patterns. We interpret these patterns as demonstration of the possibility that DNA occurs along the length of a continuous lamellar membrane system. Chloroplast fractionation experiments provided data consistent with the electron-microscope autoradiographic studies as most of the label was associated with chlorophyll-containing lamellae. We consider an association of chloroplast DNA molecules along the length of a continuous lamellar system would ensure an orderly segregation of DNA to daughter chloroplasts, during the binary fission of spinach chloroplasts by constriction division.

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