Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 303–318 | Cite as

Regulation of cell death in flower petals

  • Bernard Rubinstein


The often rapid and synchronous programmed death of petal cells provides a model system to study molecular aspects of organ senescence. The death of petal cells is preceded by a loss of membrane permeability, due in part to increases in reactive oxygen species that are in turn related to up-regulation of oxidative enzymes and to a decrease in activity of certain protective enzymes. The senescence process also consists of a loss of proteins caused by activation of various proteinases, a loss of nucleic acids as nucleases are activated, and enzyme-mediated alterations of carbohydrate polymers. Many of the genes for these senescence-associated enzymes have been cloned. In some flowers, the degradative changes of petal cells are initiated by ethylene; in others, abscisic acid may play a role. External factors such as pollination, drought and temperature stress also affect senescence, perhaps by interacting with hormones normally produced by the flowers. Signal transduction may involve G-proteins, calcium activity changes and the regulation of protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. The efficacy of the floral system as well as the research tools now available make it likely that important information will soon be added to our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in petal cell death.

flower petals hormones membrane permeability pollination programmed cell death senescence senescence-associated genes 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Rubinstein
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Biology Department and Plant Biology Graduate ProgramUniversity of MassachusettsAmherst
  2. 2.USA

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