Lacking pigments, leucoplasts are not green, so they are predictably located in roots and non-photosynthetic tissues of plants. They may become specialized for bulk storage of starch, lipid or protein and are then known as amyloplasts, elaioplasts, or proteinoplasts respectively. However, in many cell types, leucoplasts do not have a major storage function and are present to provide a wide range of essential biosynthetic functions, including the synthesis of fatty acids, many amino acids, and tetrapyrrole compounds such as haem. In general, leucoplasts are much smaller than chloroplasts and have a variable morphology, often described as amoeboid. Extensive networks of stromules interconnecting leucoplasts have been observed in epidermal cells of roots, hypocotyls and petals, and in callus and suspension culture cells of tobacco. In some cell types at certain stages of development, leucoplasts are clustered around the nucleus with stromules extending to the cell periphery, as observed for proplastids in the root meristem.
Etioplasts, which are pre-granal, immature chloroplasts but can also be chloroplasts which have been deprived of light, lack active pigment and can technically be considered leucoplasts. After several minutes exposure to light, etioplasts begin to transform into functioning chloroplasts and cease being leucoplasts.
- Stromules: a characteristic cell-specific feature of plastid morphology. : A good review on stromules (unfortunately access is restricted to suscribers)