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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(7):2179-90. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp092. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

Ethylene regulates phosphorus remobilization and expression of a phosphate transporter (PhPT1) during petunia corolla senescence.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, Ohio 44691, USA.


The programmed degradation of macromolecules during petal senescence allows the plant to remobilize nutrients from dying to developing tissues. Ethylene is involved in regulating the timing of nucleic acid degradation in petunia, but it is not clear if ethylene has a role in the remobilization of phosphorus during petal senescence. To investigate ethylene's role in nutrient remobilization, the P content of petals (collectively called the corolla) during early development and senescence was compared in ethylene-sensitive wild type Petunia x hybrida 'Mitchell Diploid' (MD) and transgenic petunias with reduced sensitivity to ethylene (35S::etr1-1). When compared to the total P content of corollas on the day of flower opening (the early non-senescing stage), P in MD corollas had decreased 74% by the late stage of senescence (advanced wilting). By contrast, P levels were only reduced by an average of 32% during etr1-1 corolla (lines 44568 and Z00-35-10) senescence. A high-affinity phosphate transporter, PhPT1 (PhPht1;1), was cloned from senescing petunia corollas by RT-PCR. PhPT1 expression was up-regulated during MD corolla senescence and a much smaller increase was detected during the senescence of etr1-1 petunia corollas. PhPT1 mRNA levels showed a rapid increase in detached corollas (treated at 1 d after flower opening) following treatment with low levels of ethylene (0.1 microl l(-1)). Transcripts accumulated in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide, indicating that PhPT1 is a primary ethylene response gene. PhPT1 is a putative phosphate transporter that may function in Pi translocation during senescence.

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