Zentrum für Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen (ZMBP)

ZMBP Project Group Ulrike Zentgraf
Leaf senescence of annual plants

Ulrike Zentgraf
Department of General Genetics
University of Tübingen
Auf der Morgenstelle 32
72076 Tübingen

Tel: 07071/29-78833
Fax: 07071/29-5042
 ulrike.zentgrafspam prevention@zmbp.uni-tuebingen.de

Research interest

Senescence is a key process that underpins many important agronomic traits including yield outcomes and pre- and post-harvest quality. Senescence is a highly regulated and organized process during which macromolecules of the mature green leaf are dismantled and remobilized for further use by the plant, either for growth or for deposition in developing fruits and seeds. Efficient senescence is essential for the overall success of the plant and its following generations; however, premature senescence, induced by stress, leads to reduced yield and quality of crop plants. Abiotic stress is estimated to be the primary cause of crop loss worldwide, with the potential to cause a reduction of more than 50% in the average yield of the main crops.

In general, selective activation of gene expression but also the decrease of certain RNAs and/or proteins initiates and regulate this process. The gene products are involved in the breakdown of macromolecules and the mobilization of nutrients out of the senescing tissues. The rapid loss of chlorophyll, the lowering of protein and RNA levels, activation of autophagy or the leakiness of the cell membranes are used as senescence markers. Despite the importance of the senescence processes in plants, our knowledge on the signals and regulatory mechanisms is still limited.

In order to characterize factors which are involved in the onset and regulation of senescence two different approaches are followed (Research Projects).