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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

The Function of Autophagy in Lace Plant Programmed Cell Death

Dauphinee, Adrian N.; Denbigh, Georgia L.; Rollini, Alice; Fraser, Meredith; Lacroix, Christian R.; Gunawardena, Arunika H. L. A. N.


The lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) is an aquatic monocot that utilizes programmed cell death (PCD) to form perforations throughout its mature leaves as part of normal development. The lace plant is an emerging model system representing a unique form of developmental PCD. The role of autophagy in lace plant PCD was investigated using live cell imaging, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), immunolocalization, and in vivo pharmacological experimentation. ATG8 immunostaining and acridine orange staining revealed that autophagy occurs in both healthy and dying cells. Autophagosome-like vesicles were also found in healthy and dying cells through ultrastructural analysis with TEM. Following autophagy modulation, there was a noticeable increase in vesicles and vacuolar aggregates. A novel cell death assay utilizing lace plant leaves revealed that autophagy enhancement with rapamycin significantly decreased cell death rates compared to the control, whereas inhibition of autophagosome formation with wortmannin or blocking the degradation of cargoes with concanamycin A had an opposite effect. Although autophagy modulation significantly affected cell death rates in cells that are destined to die, neither the promotion nor inhibition of autophagy in whole plants had a significant effect on the number of perforations formed in lace plant leaves. Our data indicate that autophagy predominantly contributes to cell survival, and we found no clear evidence for its direct involvement in the induction of developmental PCD during perforation formation in lace plant leaves.


programmed cell death (PCD); autophagy; TEM; confocal microscopy; immunolocalization; ATG8; leaf development; perforation formation

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2019, Volume: 10, article number: 1198

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Cell Biology

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