chloroplast (klōrˈəplăstˌ, klôrˈ–) [key], a complex, discrete green structure, or organelle, contained in the cytoplasm of plant cells. Chloroplasts are reponsible for the green color of almost all plants and are lacking only in plants that do not make their own food, such as fungi and nongreen parasitic or saprophytic higher plants. The chloroplast is generally flattened and lens-shaped and consists of a body, or stroma, in which are embedded from a few to as many as 50 submicroscopic bodies—the grana—made up of stacked, disklike plates. The chloroplast contains chlorophyll pigments, as well as yellow and orange carotenoid pigments. Chloroplasts are thus the central site of the photosynthetic process in plants. The chloroplasts of algae are simpler than those of higher plants and may contain special, often conspicuous, starch-accumulating structures called pyrenoids.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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