I'm slightly confused as to the difference between thylakoids and lamellae. My understanding was that thylakoids are 'discs' that are stacked into grana and there is a membrane between the grana called the integranal lamellae. However in my text book it says that 'the inner membrane is folded into lamellae, which are stacked up like piles of pennies. Each stack of lamallae is called a granum.' This sounds to me like the description of thylakoids. It later says 'grana are stacks of flattened membrane compartments, called thylakoids'...

Could someone clarify this?

Thank you in advance :)

  • $\begingroup$ thylakoid is the individual disc, and the granum is the stack. That's the basics of it $\endgroup$ – user10170 Nov 13 '14 at 1:05

The answer above goes in depth so I will try go off that. Firstly, lamella is the word used to describe plate-like structures. A thylakoid therefore, being a flattened vesicle, would fit this description, so a thylakoid is a type of lamella. As mentioned earlier, a lamellar system consists of uniform thylakoids, the thylakoids being the individual lamella.

I have the same textbook as you, OCR A2 Biology, and I must admit I had the same confusion. What this textbook fails to mention is the fact that thylakoids are just one type of lamellae.

The textbook also states that the inner membrane of the chloroplast is "folded into lamellae (thin plates)". There are two types of lamellae in the chloroplast, thylakoids and intergranal lamellae, both are stacked, however only thylakoids appear as "piles of pennies" as it states. Intergranal lamellae look nothing like pennies, which is why the textbook is strongly misleading, they are big flattened bits of membrane that connect together different grana (stacks of thylakoids).

Note: my answer comes in 3 years late (I'm currently doing my A2), and the textbook in question will see its last use this year as the current A2 level syllabus is updated, I hope my answer still helps to clear up any confusion should OCR mess up again on this one

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    $\begingroup$ can you give some references for additional information and/or to back up your answer? It's something that we always appreciate in this community. $\endgroup$ – Vance L Albaugh Mar 2 '16 at 21:33

I am assuming that you understand this basic structure-

enter image description here

Now, let's start with grana which are small discrete dark green bodies embedded in lighter coloured stroma...

But, in evolutionarily primitive life forms like algae, there is no differentiation among individual granum....rather they consist of continuous layer or lamellae like the sheets of book parallel to each other...like this....

enter image description here


this lamellate form of chloroplast is found in all green plants

, but

in higher plants there are a no. of more or less separate piles of sheet or lamellae

( unlike algae, as previously mentioned, where the sheets of lamellae run through the whole chloroplast). Each , of these lamellae is composed of double membranes joined at the ends & each membrane is 100-200 angstrom thick....

following Menke (1960) these double lamellae are known as Thylakoids...

Now, unifying all these-

Lamellar system consists of uniform thylakoids , which sometimes are stacked up like pennies , each stack being called a granum ( plu. grana)

& this is as simple explanation as I can give of this utterly confusing Q....please feel free to comment about any portion that needs to be elaborated...

  • $\begingroup$ you use a lot of quotes, but provide no citations. Where is all of this information coming form? Also, your answer is not well organized and as a result is not very clear. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Mar 2 '16 at 20:34

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