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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Filling in the gaps: a road map to establish a model system to study developmental programmed cell death

Rowarth, Nathan M.; Tattrie, Sophie B.; Dauphinee, Adrian N.; Lacroix, Christian R.; Gunawardena, Arunika H. L. A. N.


Only a handful of model systems for studying programmed cell death (PCD) exist. The model Arabidopsis thaliana has generated a plethora of knowledge, but it is essential to introduce new models to broaden our understanding of the commonalities of PCD. This review focuses on Aponogeton madagascariensis (the lace plant) as a choice model to study PCD in vivo. PCD plays a key role in plant development and defence. Thus, identifying key regulators across plants is a priority in the field. The formation of perforations in lace plant leaves in areas called areoles is a striking example of PCD. Cells undergoing PCD within areoles can be easily identified from a loss of their anthocyanin pigmentation. In contrast, cells adjacent to veins, non-PCD cells, retain anthocyanins, creating a gradient of cell death. The spatiotemporal pattern of perforation formation, a gradient of cell death within areoles, and the availability of axenic cultures provide an excellent in vivo system to study mechanisms of developmental PCD. The priorities to further develop this model involve sequencing the genome, establishing transformation protocols, and identifying anthocyanin species to determine their medicinal properties. We discuss practical methodologies and challenges associated with developing the lace plant as a model to study PCD.


lace plant; novel model organism; anthocyanin; leaf development; perforation formation; gradient of cell death

Published in

2023, Volume: 101, number: 8, pages: 301-317

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Cell Biology

    Publication identifier


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