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The ch4 mutant of sweetclover (Melilotus alba) has previously been demonstrated to be partially deficient in chlorophyll and to have a higher ratio of chlorophyll a to b than normal plants. We were able to substantiate these findings when plants were grown at 23°C and lower (permissive temperatures). However, when grown at 26°C (nonpermissive temperature) the plants produced small yellow leaves which exhibited one-twentieth the chlorophyll content of normal plants. Affected leaves did not increase their chlorophyll content when plants were incubated at permissive temperatures, but leaves which developed at the lower temperature contained increased amounts of chlorophyll. Similarly, only new leaves, not previously grown leaves, exhibited the yellow phenotype when the mutant plant was shifted from the permissive temperature to the nonpermissive temperature. Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase activity was decreased by half, relative to normal plants, in the mutant plants grown at the nonpermissive temperature, indicating that general protein synthesis was not greatly impaired and that the effect of the mutation was perhaps specific for chlorophyll content. HPLC analysis indicated that carotenoid content was not diminished to the same extent as chlorophyll and we have determined that the thylakoid protein kinase is not altered, as is the case for other chlorophyll b-deficient mutants. Experiments suggest that changes in photoperiod may be able to modulate the effect of temperature.