Senescence Meets Dedifferentiation Academic Article uri icon


  • Senescence represents the final stage of leaf development but is often induced prematurely following exposure to biotic and abiotic stresses. Leaf senescence is manifested by color change from green to yellow (due to chlorophyll degradation) or to red (due to de novo synthesis of anthocyanins coupled with chlorophyll degradation) and frequently culminates in programmed death of leaves. However, the breakdown of chlorophyll and macromolecules such as proteins and RNAs that occurs during leaf senescence does not necessarily represent a one-way road to death but rather a reversible process whereby senescing leaves can, under certain conditions, re-green and regain their photosynthetic capacity. This phenomenon essentially distinguishes senescence from programmed cell death, leading researchers to hypothesize that changes occurring during senescence might represent a process of trans-differentiation, that is the conversion of one cell type to another. In this review, we highlight attributes common to senescence and dedifferentiation including chromatin structure and activation of transposable elements and provide further support to the notion that senescence is not merely a deterioration process leading to death but rather a unique developmental state resembling dedifferentiation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015

published in