Acceleration of leaf senescence is slowed down in transgenic barley plants deficient in the DNA/RNA-binding protein WHIRLY1

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WHIRLY1 in barley was isolated as a potential regulator of the senescence-associated geneHvS40. In order to investigate whether the plastid-nucleus-located DNA/RNA-binding protein WHIRLY1 plays a role in regulation of leaf senescence, primary foliage leaves from transgenic barley plants with an RNAi-mediated knockdown of theWHIRLY1gene were characterized by typical senescence parameters, namely pigment contents, function and composition of the photosynthetic apparatus, as well as expression of selected genes known to be either down- or up-regulated during leaf senescence. When the plants were grown at low light intensity, senescence progression was similar between wild-type and RNAi-W1 plants. Likewise, dark-induced senescence of detached leaves was not affected by reduction of WHIRLY1. When plants were grown at high light intensity, however, senescence was induced prematurely in wild-type plants but was delayed in RNAi-W1 plants. This result suggests that WHIRLY1 plays a role in light sensing and/or stress communication between chloroplasts and the nucleus.

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