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J Exp Bot. 2006;57(9):1949-56. Epub 2006 May 23.

The expression patterns of SAG12/Cab genes reveal the spatial and temporal progression of leaf senescence in Brassica napus L. with sensitivity to the environment.

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UMR INRA-UCBN 950 Ecophysiologie Végétale, Agronomie et Nutritions N, C, Caen, France.


Despite a high nitrate uptake capacity, the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of oilseed rape is weak due to a relatively low N remobilization from vegetative (mostly leaves) to growing parts of the plant. Thus, this crop requires a high rate of N fertilization and leaves fall with a high N content. In order to reduce the rate of N fertilization and to improve the environmental impact of oilseed rape, new genotypes could be selected on their capacity to mobilize the foliar N. Various indicators of leaf senescence in oilseed rape were analysed during plant growth, as well as during senescence induced by N deprivation. Metabolic changes in leaves of increasing age were followed in N-supplied and N-deprived rosettes by measuring chlorophyll, total N, and soluble protein contents. Similarly, the expression of genes known to be up-regulated (SAG12) or down-regulated (Cab) during leaf senescence was monitored. The amount of soluble proteins per leaf was a better indicator of leaf senescence than chlorophyll or total N content, but was not evaluated as an accurate indicator under conditions of N deprivation. On the other hand, up-regulation of SAG12 concomitantly with down-regulation of Cab in the leaf revealed the spatial and temporal progression of leaf senescence in oilseed rape. This study shows, for the first time at the whole plant level, that the SAG12/Cab gene expressions match the sink/source transition for N during both developmental and nutrient stress-induced leaf senescence.

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