A role for GLABRA1 in dark-induced senescence
The GLABRA (GL1) gene, belonging to the transcription factor-encoding myb gene family, is responsible for trichome formation in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. The leaves and stems of glabra1 mutant plants are devoid of trichomes. Having an easily observable phenotype, the gl1 mutation was one of the first markers established for genetic mapping of Arabidopsis thaliana. Since then, the GL1 gene has been assigned roles in other processes, also related to leaf structure. In this study we present some previously undescribed effects of the gl1 mutation on dark-induced senescence. This process was induced by covering selected mature leaves of Columbia wild-type and gl1 Arabidopsis with black paper for 4 days, while the plants remained growing in a normal photoperiod. While no visible differences in the external symptoms of senescence could be observed in the darkened leaves, the expression of senescence-associated genes was significantly lower in gl1 plants as compared to the wild type. The darkening of leaves led to a decrease in photosynthetic activity and the expression of photosynthesis-associated genes, in comparison to the control leaves. This effect was much less pronounced in gl1 than in the wild type plants. Therefore, gl1 plants seem to be less susceptible to dark-induced aging, suggesting a possible role for the GL1 gene in controlling the onset and progress of senescence. This result is also of practical importance, since gl1 is the genetic background of many other mutants. It may therefore be advisable to revise some of the results obtained with such mutants in light of findings presented here.
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