J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2012, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (12): 936-952.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12005

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Regulation of Leaf Senescence and Crop Genetic Improvement

Xiao-Yuan Wu1, Ben-Ke Kuai2, Ji-Zeng Jia3 and Hai-Chun Jing1*   

  1. 1The Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2College of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 65642222, China
    3Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2012-09-13 Accepted:2012-11-01 Published:2012-12-11
  • About author:*Corresponding author Tel: +86 10 6283 6576; E-mail: hcjing@ibcas.ac.cn


Leaf senescence can impact crop production by either changing photosynthesis duration, or by modifying the nutrient remobilization efficiency and harvest index. The doubling of the grain yield in major cereals in the last 50 years was primarily achieved through the extension of photosynthesis duration and the increase in crop biomass partitioning, two things that are intrinsically coupled with leaf senescence. In this review, we consider the functionality of a leaf as a function of leaf age, and divide a leaf's life into three phases: the functionality increasing phase at the early growth stage, the full functionality phase, and the senescence and functionality decreasing phase. A genetic framework is proposed to describe gene actions at various checkpoints to regulate leaf development and senescence. Four categories of genes contribute to crop production: those which regulate (I) the speed and transition of early leaf growth, (II) photosynthesis rate, (III) the onset and (IV) the progression of leaf senescence. Current advances in isolating and characterizing senescence regulatory genes are discussed in the leaf aging and crop production context. We argue that the breeding of crops with leaf senescence ideotypes should be an essential part of further crop genetic improvement.

Wu XY, Kuai BK, Jia JZ, Jing HC (2012) Regulation of leaf senescence and crop genetic improvement. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 54(12), 936–952.

Key words: Leaf Senescence, photosynthesis and photoassimilates, nutrient remobilisation, senescence-associated genes, crop ideotypes

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