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Cell Death Differ. 2005 Oct;12(10):1277-84.

Chloroplasts regulate leaf senescence: delayed senescence in transgenic ndhF-defective tobacco.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología Vegetal, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Alcalá de Henares, 28871 Madrid, Spain.


Mitochondrial involvement has not been identified in the programmed cell death (PCD) of leaf senescence which suggests that processes such as those involving reactive oxygen species (ROS) are controlled by chloroplasts. We report that transgenic tobacco (DeltandhF), with the plastid ndhF gene knocked-out, shows low levels of the plastid Ndh complex, homologous to mitochondrial complex I, and more than a 30-day-delay in leaf senescence with respect to wt. The comparison of activities and protein levels and analyses of genetic and phenotypic traits of wtxDeltandhF crosses indicate that regulatory roles of mitochondria in animal PCD are assumed by chloroplasts in leaf senescence. The Ndh complex would increase the reduction level of electron transporters and the generation of ROS. Chloroplastic control of leaf senescence provides a nonclassical model of PCD and reveals an unexpected role of the plastid ndh genes that are present in most higher plants.

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