Current molecular understanding of the genetically programmed process of leaf senescence

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Natural leaf senescence proceeds through an orderly program of events referred to, generally, as the 'senescence syndrome'. Leaf senescence consists of primarily, but not exclusively, a set of degradative and remobilization activities that salvage valuable nutrients by reallocation to the seeds or other viable parts of the plant. The program requires changes in gene expression and eventually culminates in death of the leaf or whole plant. Leaf/whole plant senescence has now been scrutinized extensively using molecular genetic approaches and a clearer picture of the events that comprise the developmental program is beginning to emerge. However, while understandings of the phenomenological aspects of the program have become apparent, the mechanistic aspects, particularly with regard to the processes required for induction and regulation of the program, are still far from clear. Molecular evidence suggests the process is complex in terms of the wide array of genes and activities expressed, and in terms of the overall regulation of progression of the events of the syndrome. This article attempts to review our current understanding of leaf senescence and includes a brief discussion of aspects of the process that require clarification if we are to more fully understand this complex developmental program.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Physiologia Plantarum