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Pectinase functions in abscission

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Purpose of review: This review focuses on recent discoveries relating to the role of pectinases in organ abscission.

Findings: The expression of a number of polygalacturonases and pectin esterases increases during organ shedding. Down-regulation of polygalacturonases has been shown to delay but not prevent abscission, suggesting that other enzymic events may be critical to bring about cell separation. Ectopic expression of polygalacturonases indicates that substrate specificity may be critical to enzyme action and provides evidence that plant cell walls may have subtle variations in composition, even between adjacent tissues. These discoveries may provide a platform whereby the timing of organ shedding can be manipulated to optimise both postharvest quality and quantity.

Directions for future research: Molecular tools are available in the model plant Arabidopsis to study the temporal and spatial patterns of pectinase expression. The analysis of single and multiple gene knockouts should provide a way forward to determine key genes in cell separation events and analyse cell wall remodelling and gene function.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2212/spr.2009.1.2

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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