Nitrogen Metabolism in Senescing Leaves

Feller, Urs; Fischer, Andreas (1994). Nitrogen Metabolism in Senescing Leaves. Critical reviews in plant sciences, 13(3), pp. 241-273. CRC Press Inc 10.1080/713608059

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Leaf senescence is a highly organized process and not a passive decay. Photosynthesizing mesophyll cells lose their functions in an early phase, while the epidermal layer with the stomates and the phloem remains functional throughout senescence. The subcellular compartmentation is maintained and allows the cooperation of different organelles in the remobilization of constituents. Nitrogen metabolism changes at the onset of senescence from assimilation to remobilization. Enzymes involved in nitrate reduction are lost, while some enzymes of intermediary nitrogen metabolism are maintained longer, and some catabolic enzymes reach highest activities during senescence. Chloroplasts are dismantled early, but mitochondria remain active and may fuel remobilization processes. Chloroplast proteins are degraded, and this nitrogen fraction can be translocated via the phloem from senescing leaves to sinks within the same plant. In contrast, chlorophyll is degraded, fragments produced reach the vacuole, and catabolites accumulate there. Nuclear DNA is maintained until a very late phase. The export of nitrogen from senescing plant parts is important for the economic use of this macronutrient. The regulation of senescence at the whole plant level as well as at the molecular level is only rudimentarily known, although interesting new aspects have been presented recently.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant nutrition [discontinued]
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Feller-Kaiser, Urs


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




CRC Press Inc




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

24 Mar 2017 14:34

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:00

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

nitrate reduction, glutamine synthetase, chlorophyll catabolism, proteolysis, nucleic acids, regulation




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