, Volume 207, Issue 3-4, pp 222-232

Senescence program in rice (Oryza sautiva L.) leaves: Analysis of the blade of the second leaf at the tissue and cellular levels

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Previously, we showed that all greening mesophyll cells in the coleoptiles of rice (Oryza sauva L. cv. Nippon-bare) follow the identical program of senescence, which features the early degradation of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) and subsequent nuclear condensation and disorganization. Following the coleoptile study, we analyzed the senescence-associated changes in the blade of the second leaf of rice at the tissue and cellular levels. Under the experimental conditions, the second leaf started to elongate rapidly 2 days after sowing and emerged on day 3. The blade of the second leaf completed its growth on day 4, although the sheath continued to grow until day 7. The amount of soluble protein and chlorophyll (Chl) per blade reached a maximum on day 7, and then declined. When blades were divided into three parts (the tip, mid-region, and base), levels of both soluble protein and Chl in the tip segment peaked earlier and decreased at a faster rate than in the other parts, demonstrating a longitudinal gradient of senescence from the tip to the base of the blade. In cross sections through the center of the tip and base segments, all the mesophyll cells senesced synchronously. They passed through the following steps in order: (i) degradation of cpDNA, (ii) decrease in the size of the chloroplast with degeneration of the chloroplast inner membranes, and (iii) condensation and disorganization of the nuclei. Although some differences were shown between the coleoptile and the second leaf in the timing and rate of each event, the order of those senescence-related events was conserved, suggesting an identical program of senescence exists in rice leaves.