Chloroplasts are highly dynamic—they circulate and are moved around within plant cells, and occasionally pinch in two to reproduce. Their behavior is strongly influenced by environmental factors like light color and intensity. Chloroplasts, like mitochondria, contain their own DNA, which is thought to be inherited from their ancestor—a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that was engulfed by an early eukaryotic cell. Chloroplasts cannot be made by the plant cell and must be inherited by each daughter cell during cell division.
With one exception (the amoeboidPaulinella chromatophora), all chloroplasts can probably be traced back to a single endosymbiotic event, when a cyanobacterium was engulfed by the eukaryote. Despite this, chloroplasts can be found in an extremely wide set of organisms, some not even directly related to each other—a consequence of many secondary and even tertiary endosymbiotic events.
The word chloroplast is derived from the Greek words chloros (χλωρός), which means green, and plastes (πλάστης), which means "the one who forms".
The first definitive description of a chloroplast (Chlorophyllkörnen, "grain of chlorophyll") was given by Hugo von Mohl in 1837 as discrete bodies within the green plant cell. In 1883, A. F. W. Schimper would name these bodies as "chloroplastids" (Chloroplastiden). In 1884, Eduard Strasburger adopted the term "chloroplasts" (Chloroplasten).