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Role of auxin depletion in abscission control

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Purpose of review: Abscission is a programmed developmental process initiated by auxin depletion. This review summarizes the mechanisms leading to auxin depletion in the abscission zone (AZ), evaluates the methods for estimation of the spatio-temporal auxin levels, demonstrates how auxin depletion occurs during natural, stress-induced, and artificially-induced organ abscission, and presents new evidence for early and late events resulting from auxin depletion which lead to organ abscission.

Findings: Auxin depletion occurs during natural developmental processes which end in organ abscission (leaf and flower senescence, fruit ripening, and self-pruning) and stress-induced abscission, and following artificial organ removal in the tomato model system. Stress-induced auxin depletion is mediated by increased ethylene and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and carbohydrate starvation. Similar changes in auxin-related genes occurred in both flower AZ (FAZ) and leaf AZ (LAZ) following flower or leaf removal, respectively, suggesting a similar regulation of the abscission process of these organs. Auxin depletion resulted from decreased indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) biosynthesis and transport, as well as from enhanced IAA transport autoinhibition (ATA), conjugation and oxidative IAA catabolism. Functional analyses of several target genes delaying abscission, such as Knotted-Like Homeobox Protein1 (KD1), Tomato Proline Rich Protein (TPRP), Ethylene Responsive Factor52 (ERF52), and Ribonuclease LX (LX), shed light on various events operating in response to auxin depletion in tomato FAZ and/or LAZ. The information gained allows a better understanding of the abscission process driven by auxin depletion, and might lead to development of improved methods for abscission control in horticultural crops.

Direction for future research: A better understanding of abscission regulation as it pertains to auxin depletion will require advanced molecular tools such as microarrays, new generation sequencing (NGS), transcriptomic, functional, and proteomic analyses of target genes and proteins found to operate in the abscission process.
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Document Type: Research Article

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