Plant leaves, harvesting light energy and fixing CO2, are a major source of foods on the earth. Leaves undergo developmental and physiological shifts during their lifespan, ending with senescence and death. We characterized the key regulatory features of the leaf transcriptome during aging by analyzing total- and small-RNA transcriptomes throughout the lifespan of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) leaves at multidimensions, including age, RNA-type, and organelle. Intriguingly, senescing leaves showed more coordinated temporal changes in transcriptomes than growing leaves, with sophisticated regulatory networks comprising transcription factors and diverse small regulatory RNAs. The chloroplast transcriptome, but not the mitochondrial transcriptome, showed major changes during leaf aging, with a strongly shared expression pattern of nuclear transcripts encoding chloroplast-targeted proteins. Thus, unlike animal aging, leaf senescence proceeds with tight temporal and distinct interorganellar coordination of various transcriptomes that would be critical for the highly regulated degeneration and nutrient recycling contributing to plant fitness and productivity.
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© 2016 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.