Elsevier, Progress in Lipid Research, (54), p. 68-85
: Photosynthetic membranes have a unique lipid composition that has been remarkably well conserved from cyanobacteria to chloroplasts. These membranes are characterized by a very high content in galactoglycerolipids, i.e., mono- and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG and DGDG, respectively). Galactoglycerolipids make up the bulk of the lipid matrix in which photosynthetic complexes are embedded. They are also known to fulfill specific functions, such as stabilizing photosystems, being a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids for various purposes and, in some eukaryotes, being exported to other subcellular compartments. The conservation of MGDG and DGDG suggests that selection pressures might have conserved the enzymes involved in their biosynthesis, but this does not appear to be the case. Important evolutionary transitions comprise primary endosymbiosis (from a symbiotic cyanobacterium to a primary chloroplast) and secondary endosymbiosis (from a symbiotic unicellular algal eukaryote to a secondary plastid). In this review, we compare biosynthetic pathways based on available molecular and biochemical data, highlighting enzymatic reactions that have been conserved and others that have diverged or been lost, as well as the emergence of parallel and alternative biosynthetic systems originating from other metabolic pathways. Questions for future research are highlighted.