Programmed cell death (PCD) processes begin extremely early in Alstroemeria petal senescence


Author for correspondence: Carol Wagstaff Tel: +44 (0) 1784 443761 Fax: +44 (0) 1784 470756 Email:


  • • In the Liliaceous species Alstroemeria, petal senescence is characterized by wilting and inrolling, terminating in abscission 8–10 d after flower opening.
  • • In many species, flower development and senescence involves programmed cell death (PCD). PCD in Alstroemeria petals was investigated by light (LM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) (to study nuclear degradation and cellular integrity), DNA laddering and the expression programme of the DAD-1 gene.
  • • TEM showed nuclear and cellular degradation commenced before the flowers were fully open and that epidermal cells remained intact whilst the mesophyll cells degenerated completely. DNA laddering increased throughout petal development. Expression of the ALSDAD-1 partial cDNA was shown to be downregulated after flower opening.
  • • We conclude that some PCD processes are started extremely early and proceed throughout flower opening and senescence, whereas others occur more rapidly between stages 4–6 (i.e. postanthesis). The spatial distribution of PCD across the petals is discussed. Several molecular and physiological markers of PCD are present during Alstroemeria petal senescence.