Section 4
Chapter 3,365

Aspects of programmed cell death during leaf senescence of mono- and dicotyledonous plants

Simeonova, E.; Sikora, A.; Charzynska, M.; Mostowska, A.

Protoplasma 214(1-2): 93-101


ISSN/ISBN: 0033-183X
DOI: 10.1007/bf02524266
Accession: 003364807

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Leaf senescence is a highly regulated stage in the plant life cycle, leading to cell death, recently examined as a type of the programmed cell death (PCD). One of the basic features of PCD is the condensation of nuclear chromatin which is caused by endonucleolytic degradation of nuclear DNA (nDNA). In our investigations, we applied the technique of the single-cell electrophoresis system ("comet assay") in order to determine the type of nDNA fragmentation during leaf senescence. The comet assay, a sensitive method revealing nonrandom internucleosomal damage that is specific for PCD, is especially useful for the detection of nDNA degradation in isolated viable cells. Simultaneously, we analyzed the mesophyll cell ultrastructure and the photosynthetic-pigment concentration in the leaves of two species, Ornithogalum virens and Nicotiana tabacum, representing mono- and dicotyledonous plants which differ in the pattern of leaf differentiation. These investigations demonstrated that, in both species, the comet assay revealed nDNA degradation in yellow-leaf protoplasts containing chloroplasts that showed already changed ultrastructure (swelled or completely degraded thylakoids) and cell nuclei with a significant condensation of chromatin. There was no nDNA degradation in green-leaf protoplasts containing differentiated chloroplasts with numerous grana stacks and nuclei with dispersed chromatin. The analysis of intermediate developmental stage showed that the degradation of nDNA precedes condensation of nuclear chromatin. Thus the comet assay is a very useful and sensitive method for early detection of PCD. Moreover, results of our studies indicate that leaf senescence involves PCD.

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