Amyloplast Function and Placement

Benjamin Sheldon, Darla Reed
  • Author
    Benjamin Sheldon

    Benjamin Sheldon has taught elementary, middle school and high school students in general science, physics, physical science and gifted enrichment for over 16 years. He has a bachelors degree in physics teaching with a minor in mathematics from Brigham Young University and a masters degree in special education with an emphasis in gifted education from The University of Missouri in Columbia.

  • Instructor
    Darla Reed

    Darla has taught undergraduate Enzyme Kinetics and has a doctorate in Basic Medical Science

Learn what an amyloplast is. Discover amyloplast functions and structure, examine types of starches, and identify how amyloplasts are formed from protoplastids. Updated: 03/04/2022

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What Is an Amyloplast?

An amyloplast is a type of leucoplast that develops from a proplastid. It is located in plant cells. The amyloplast definition is an organelle that produces and stores starch within the cell. In this lesson we will discuss plastids, where an amyloplast is found, and what the amyloplast function is.

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  • 0:00 What Is an Amyloplast?
  • 0:55 What Is Starch?
  • 2:04 What Is a Plastid?
  • 3:40 Amyloplasts: Function…
  • 5:07 Lesson Summary
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Amyloplasts and Plastids

An amyloplast is a specific type of plastid. Plastids first come from what is called a proplastid. A proplastid is an organelle that has not matured into its final function. A proplastid can divide and become another proplastid, or it can mature into a specific functioning plastid. There are various types of plastids into which a proplastid can mature. A plastid is an organelle that synthesizes nutrients and/or stores nutrients. Plastids are found within the cytoplasm inside cells. They are very unique in that they have their own DNA and so do not need to rely on the DNA in the cell nucleus to receive directions and provide DNA to duplicate. They have a bilayer lipid membrane that surrounds them. Within this bilayer, they also have a colorless fluid called stroma. Plastids can be colorful, due to pigments in the organelle, or they can have no pigmentation.

Proplastids can develop into one of several different types of plastids. Chloroplasts have green pigment and are responsible for absorbing light and undergoing photosynthesis. Chromoplasts can have yellow, red, and/or orange pigment. They provide coloration to ripened fruit or flowers to attract animals to spread pollen or fruit. Gerontoplasts are degraded chloroplasts as plant cells die. They also have yellow, red, and/or orange pigments. The last type is leucoplasts, which are plastids that lack pigmentation or color, and store nutrients. Amyloplasts are leucoplasts. Chloroplasts and leucoplasts can transform into chromoplasts. Also, leucoplasts can transform into chloroplasts.

Some other leucoplasts that are similar to the amyloplast include etioplasts, elaioplasts, and proteinoplasts. Etioplasts are chloroplasts that have not yet obtained the green pigment of a mature chloroplast. They exist before significant light exposure, and as they are exposed to light, the chlorophyll develops, and this leucoplast becomes a chloroplast. The elaioplast is a synthesizer of fatty acids and is present in cells that become pollen. Lipids are stored inside the elaioplast in plastoglobuli, which are storage compartments for lipids. Proteinoplasts are in cells found in seeds, and as the name suggests, store protein.

Figure 1 shows the different types of plastids and how each type of plastid relates to the other types. The proplastid is the precursor to each of the different types of plastids.


Figure 1. Types of plastids

Diagram showing types of plastids


Placement of Amyloplast

Amyloplasts are located in plants. They are not ever located in animals or other organisms like bacteria, protists, or fungus. They are not located in all plant cells. Plant cells will contain amyloplasts in areas of the plant that have the purpose of storing complex sugars or starches. In parts like leaves, there typically will be fewer or no amyloplasts, as the space in the cell needs to be reserved for chloroplasts and storage of water for photosynthesis. Amyloplasts will be readily found in cells of the stem, roots, and only the middle layers of leaves. They also are found in the fruit and seeds of the plant. A plant part that is specifically designed to store starches is a tuber. A tuber is a structure similar to a stem that is situated underground. A potato is a tuber and has a lot of starch and a lot of amyloplasts to store all the starch.


Figure 2. Potato cells with visible amyloplasts

image of potato cells containing amyloplasts


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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the amyloplast do?

An amyloplast is an organelle that is only found in plants. It is used to produce, break down, and store starches.

What is the amyloplast made of?

The organelle is made up of its own bilayer membrane and its own DNA and has colorless fluid within it called stroma. The amyloplast makes and contains starch granules that it is storing for future usage.

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