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New Phytol. 2008;180(1):13-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02549.x.

Apoptotic-like programmed cell death in plants.

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1
School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.

Abstract

Programmed cell death (PCD) is now accepted as a fundamental cellular process in plants. It is involved in defence, development and response to stress, and our understanding of these processes would be greatly improved through a greater knowledge of the regulation of plant PCD. However, there may be several types of PCD that operate in plants, and PCD research findings can be confusing if they are not assigned to a specific type of PCD. The various cell-death mechanisms need therefore to be carefully described and defined. This review describes one of these plant cell death processes, namely the apoptotic-like PCD (AL-PCD). We begin by examining the hallmark 'apoptotic-like' features (protoplast condensation, DNA degradation) of the cell's destruction that are characteristic of AL-PCD, and include examples of AL-PCD during the plant life cycle. The review explores the possible cellular 'executioners' (caspase-like molecules; mitochondria; de novo protein synthesis) that are responsible for the hallmark features of the cellular destruction. Finally, senescence is used as a case study to show that a rigorous definition of cell-death processes in plant cells can help to resolve arguments that occur in the scientific literature regarding the timing and control of plant cell death.

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