Plant Physiol. 177 (1) 132-150 [2018-05-00; online 2018-03-09]
In plants, an individually darkened leaf initiates senescence much more rapidly than a leaf from a whole darkened plant. Combining transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches in Arabidopsis ( Arabidopsis thaliana), we present an overview of the metabolic strategies that are employed in response to different darkening treatments. Under darkened plant conditions, the perception of carbon starvation drove a profound metabolic readjustment in which branched-chain amino acids and potentially monosaccharides released from cell wall loosening became important substrates for maintaining minimal ATP production. Concomitantly, the increased accumulation of amino acids with a high nitrogen-carbon ratio may provide a safety mechanism for the storage of metabolically derived cytotoxic ammonium and a pool of nitrogen for use upon returning to typical growth conditions. Conversely, in individually darkened leaf, the metabolic profiling that followed our 13C-enrichment assays revealed a temporal and differential exchange of metabolites, including sugars and amino acids, between the darkened leaf and the rest of the plant. This active transport could be the basis for a progressive metabolic shift in the substrates fueling mitochondrial activities, which are central to the catabolic reactions facilitating the retrieval of nutrients from the senescing leaf. We propose a model illustrating the specific metabolic strategies employed by leaves in response to these two darkening treatments, which support either rapid senescence or a strong capacity for survival.