, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 1-8

Carbohydrate regulation of leaf development: Prolongation of leaf senescence in Rubisco antisense mutants of tobacco

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Previous investigations have shown that increased source strength as a result of elevated CO2 can alter the timing of the phases of change that occur in photosynthetic rates during dicot leaf ontogeny [Miller et al. (1997) Plant Physiol 115: 1195–1200]. To evaluate the converse situation of decreased source strength, we examined leaf development in rbcS antisense mutants of tobacco. These mutants have depressed Rubisco levels and decreased rates of carbohydrate production. We found that antisense leaves are longer-lived than wild type leaves and that this appeared to be due to a prolongation of the senescence phase of development, as monitored by photosynthetic rates, chlorophyll content, and the abundance and activity of Rubisco. Declines in these parameters during leaf ontogeny in both the wild type and mutant plants were generally accompanied by coordinate reductions in the levels of rbcS mRNA and rbcL mRNA, as well as by reductions in chloroplast rRNA, chloroplast DNA and total protein. We suggest that the prolongation of senescence in the antisense leaves is due to an impact of source strength on leaf developmental programming that occurs, at least in part, at the level of transcript abundance of nuclear and chloroplast genes for chloroplast rRNAs and proteins. We hypothesize that plants are capable of sensing a range of source strength conditions to initiate and modulate leaf developmental programming.

This revised version was published online in October 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.