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J Exp Bot. 2001 Nov;52(364):2151-9.

Correlative controls of senescence and plant death in Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae).

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  • 1Biology Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, USA.


Like most monocarpic plants, longevity of Arabidopsis thaliana plants is controlled by the reproductive structures; however, they appear to work differently from most dicots studied. Neither male- and female-sterility mutations (ms1-1 and bell1, respectively) nor surgical removal of the stems with inflorescences (bolts) at various stages significantly increased the longevity of individual rosette leaves, yet the mutants and treated plants lived 20-50 d longer, measured by the death of the last rosette and/or the last cauline leaf. A series of growth mutations (clv2-4, clv3-2, det3, vam1 enh, and dark green) also increased plant longevity by 20-30 d but did not delay the overall development of the plants. The mutations prolonged plant life through the production of new leaves and stems with inflorescences (bolts) rather than by extending leaf longevity. In growing stems, the newly-formed leaves may induce senescence in the older leaves; however, removal of the younger leaves did not significantly increase the life of the older leaves on the compressed stems of Arabidopsis. Since plants that produce more bolts also live longer, the reproductive load (dry weight) of the bolts did not seem to drive leaf or whole plant senescence here. The developing reproductive structures caused the death of the plant by preventing regeneration of leaves and bolts, which are green and presumably photosynthetic. They also exerted a correlative control (repression) on the development of additional reproductive structures.

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