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Keywords:

  • Ageing;
  • leaf senescence;
  • Arabidopsis;
  • hormones;
  • metabolic flux;
  • reactive oxygen species;
  • protein degradation.

Abstract: Ageing increases chaos and entropy and ultimately leads to the death of living organisms. Nevertheless, single gene mutations substantially alter lifespan, revealing that ageing is subject to genetic control. In higher plants, ageing is most obviously manifested by the senescence of leaves, and recent molecular genetic studies, in particular the isolation of Arabidopsis mutants with altered leaf senescence, have greatly advanced our understanding of ageing regulation in plants. This paper provides an overview of the identified genes and their respective molecular pathways. Hormones, metabolic flux, reactive oxygen species and protein degradation are prominent strategies employed by plants to control leaf senescence. Plants predominantly use similar ageing-regulating strategies as yeast and animals but have evolved different molecular pathways. The senescence window concept is proposed to describe the age-dependent actions of the regulatory genes. It is concluded that the similarities and differences in ageing between plants and other organisms are deeply rooted in the evolution of ageing and we hope to stimulate discussion and research in the fascinating field of leaf senescence.