Translational researches on leaf senescence for enhancing plant productivity and quality

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Abstract

Leaf senescence is a very important trait that limits yield and biomass accumulation of agronomic crops and reduces post-harvest performance and the nutritional value of horticultural crops. Significant advance in physiological and molecular understanding of leaf senescence has made it possible to devise ways of manipulating leaf senescence for agricultural improvement. There are three major strategies in this regard: (i) plant hormone biology-based leaf senescence manipulation technology, the senescence-specific gene promoter-directedIPTsystem in particular; (ii) leaf senescence-specific transcription factor biology-based technology; and (iii) translation initiation factor biology-based technology. Among the first strategy, thePSAG12-IPTautoregulatory senescence inhibition system has been widely explored and successfully used in a variety of plant species for manipulating senescence. The vast majority of the related research articles (more than 2000) showed that crops harbouring the autoregulatory system displayed a significant delay in leaf senescence without any abnormalities in growth and development, a marked increase in grain yield and biomass, dramatic improvement in horticultural performance, and/or enhanced tolerance to drought stress. This technology is approaching commercialization. The transcription factor biology-based and translation initiation factor biology-based technologies have also been shown to be very promising and have great potentials for manipulating leaf senescence in crops. Finally, it is speculated that technologies based on the molecular understanding of nutrient recycling during leaf senescence are highly desirable and are expected to be developed in future translational leaf senescence research.

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