Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process leading to the degradation of intracellular components in eukaryotes, which is important for nutrient recycling especially in response to starvation conditions. Nutrient recycling is an essential process that underpins productivity in crop plants, such that remobilized nitrogen derived from older organs supports the formation of new organs or grain-filling within a plant. We extended our understanding of autophagy in a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, to an important cereal, rice (Oryza sativa). Through analysis of transgenic rice plants stably expressing fluorescent marker proteins for autophagy or chloroplast stroma, we revealed that chloroplast proteins are partially degraded in the vacuole via Rubisco-containing bodies (RCBs), a type of autophagosomes containing stroma. We further reported evidence that the RCB pathway functions during natural leaf senescence to facilitate subsequent nitrogen remobilization into newly expanding leaves. Thus, our recent studies establish the importance of autophagy in biomass production of cereals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science