• Accessions;
  • Arabidopsis thaliana;
  • bolting;
  • natural variation;
  • SAG12;
  • senescence;
  • WRKY53


Leaf senescence is a developmentally regulated process that contributes to nutrient redistribution during reproductive growth and finally leads to tissue death. Manipulating leaf senescence through breeding or genetic engineering may help to improve important agronomic traits, such as crop yield and the storage life of harvested organs. Here, we studied natural variations in the regulation of plant senescence among 16 Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. Chlorophyll content and the proportion of yellow leaves were used as indicator parameters to determine leaf and plant senescence respectively. Our study indicated significant genotype effects on the onset and development of senescence. We selected three late- and five early-senescence accessions for further physiological studies. The relationship between leaf and plant senescence was accession-dependent. There was a significant correlation between plant senescence and the total number of leaves, siliques and plant bolting age. We monitored expression of two senescence marker genes, SAG12 and WRKY53, to evaluate progression of senescence. Our data revealed that chlorophyll content does not fully reflect leaf age, because even fully green leaves had already commenced senescence at the molecular level. Integrating senescence parameters, such as the proportion of senescent leaves, at the whole plant level provided a better indication of the molecular status of the plant than single leaf senescence parameters.