Protoplasma. 2010 Dec 17. [Epub ahead of print]
School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, 3010, Australia, email@example.com.
Parasites like malaria and Toxoplasma possess a vestigial plastid homologous to the chloroplasts of plants. The plastid (known as the apicoplast) is non-photosynthetic but retains many hallmarks of its ancestry including a circular genome that it synthesises proteins from and a suite of biosynthetic pathways of cyanobacterial origin. In this review, the discovery of the apicoplast and its integration, function and purpose are explored. New insights into the apicoplast fatty acid biosynthesis pathway and some novel roles of the apicoplast in vaccine development are reviewed.