Autophagy is a macromolecular degradation pathway by which cells recycle their contents as a developmental process, housekeeping mechanism, and response to environmental stress. In plants, autophagy involves the sequestration of cargo to be degraded, transport to the cell vacuole in a double-membrane bound autophagosome, and subsequent degradation by lytic enzymes. Autophagy has generally been considered to be a non-selective mechanism of degradation. However, studies in yeast and animals have found numerous examples of selective autophagy, with cargo including proteins, protein aggregates, and organelles. Recent work has also provided evidence for several types of selective autophagy in plants. The degradation of protein aggregates was the first selective autophagy described in plants, and, more recently, a hybrid protein of the mammalian selective autophagy adaptors p62 and NBR1, which interacts with the autophagy machinery and may function in autophagy of protein aggregates, was described in plants. Other intracellular components have been suggested to be selectively targeted by autophagy in plants, but the current evidence is limited. Here, we discuss recent findings regarding the selective targeting of cell components by autophagy in plants.
[ Diane C. Bassham (Corresponding author)]