The chloroplasts are cellular organelles of green plants and some eukaryotic organisms. These organelles conduct photosynthesis. They absorb sunlight and convert it into sugar molecules and also produce free energy stored in the form of ATP and NADPH through photosynthesis. Chloroplasts are unique organelles and are said to have originated as endosymbiotic bacteria.
Chloroplasts found in higher plants are generally biconvex or planoconvex shaped. In different plants chloroplasts have different shapes, they vary from spheroid, filamentous saucer-shaped, discoid or ovoid shaped.
They are vesicular and have a colorless center. Some chloroplasts are in shape of club, they have a thin middle zone and the ends are filled with chlorophyll. In algae a single huge chloroplast is seen that appears as a network, a spiral band or a stellate plate.
The chloroplast is double membrane bound organelles and are the site of photosynthesis. The chloroplasts have a system of three membranes: the outer membrane, the inner membrane and the thylakoid system. The outer and the inner membrane of the chloroplast enclose a semi-gel-like fluid known as the stroma. This stroma makes up much of the volume of the chloroplast, the thylakoids system floats in the stroma.
Outer membrane: It is a semi-porous membrane and is permeable to small molecules and ions, which diffuses easily. The outer membrane is not permeable to larger proteins.
Intermembrane Space: It is usually a thin intermembrane space about 10-20 nanometers and it is present between the outer and the inner membrane of the chloroplast.
Inner membrane: The inner membrane of the chloroplast forms a border to the stroma. It regulates passage of materials in and out of the chloroplast. In addition of regulation activity, the fatty acids, lipids and carotenoids are synthesized in the inner chloroplast membrane.
Stroma: Stroma is an alkaline, aqueous fluid which is protein rich and is present within the inner membrane of the chloroplast. The space outside the thylakoid space is called the stroma. The chloroplast DNA chlroplast ribosomes and the thylakoid sytem, starch granules and many proteins are found floating around the stroma.
Thylakoid System: The thylakoid system is suspended in the stroma. The thylakoid system is a collection of membranous sacks called thylakoids. The chlorophyll is found in the thylakoids and is the sight for the process of light reactions of photosynthesis to happen. The thylakoids are arranged in stacks known as grana.