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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2008 Sep;10 Suppl 1:37-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2008.00114.x.

Leaf senescence and nutrient remobilisation in barley and wheat.

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Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, DJF, University of Aarhus, Research Center Flakkebjerg, Slagelse, Denmark.


Extensive studies have been undertaken on senescence processes in barley and wheat and their importance for the nitrogen use efficiency of these crop plants. During the senescence processes, proteins are degraded and nutrients are re-mobilised from senescing leaves to other organs, especially the developing grain. Most of the proteins degraded reside in the chloroplasts, with Rubisco constituting the most dominant protein fraction. Despite intensive studies, the proteases responsible for Rubisco degradation have not yet been identified. Evidence for degradation of stromal proteins outside of chloroplasts is summarised. Rubisco is thought to be released from chloroplasts into vesicles containing stroma material (RCB = Rubisco-containing bodies). These vesicles may then take different routes for their degradation. Transcriptome analyses on barley and wheat senescence have identified genes involved in degradative, metabolic and regulatory processes that could be used in future strategies aimed at modifying the senescence process. The breeding of crops for characters related to senescence processes, e.g. higher yields and better nutrient use efficiency, is complex. Such breeding has to cope with the dilemma that delayed senescence, which could lead to higher yields, is correlated with a decrease in nutrient use efficiency. Pinpointing regulatory genes involved in senescence might lead to tools that could effectively overcome this dilemma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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