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From Green to Yellow A Leaf Story

Abstract : When switching from green to yellow, a leaf undergoes both morphological and metabolic changes. This process is known as senescence and improved understanding of its mechanisms is important both from a fundamental scientific perspective but also for biotechnological applications. The present thesis reports on several important aspects regarding the cellular and metabolic mechanisms occurring during leaf senescence with an emphasis on the mitochondrial contribution to this process. As a first step, we developed methods to isolate either highly functional crude mitochondria or highly purified mitochondria from leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana. These methods were further used to study mitochondrial contributions to cellular redox homeostasis and to estimate the mitochondrial capacities in leaves undergoing senescence. In particular, we compared the induction of senescence by different dark treatments in Arabidopsis. The comparison between individually darkened leaves and leaves from whole darkened plants revealed different metabolic strategies in response to darkness. Integrating data from measurements of photosynthesis, respiration and confocal laser microscopy with transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling, we suggested that metabolism in leaves of the whole darkened plants enter a ?stand-by mode? with low mitochondrial activity in order to maintain the photosynthetic machinery for as long as possible. In contrast, mitochondria from individually darkened leaves are more active and may provide energy and carbon skeletons for the degradation of cell constituents, facilitating the retrieval of nutrients. We also investigated the dynamics of the microtubular cytoskeleton during dark-induced senescence. Mitochondrial mobility was affected by an early disruption of the microtubules in individually darkened leaves but not in whole darkened plants. In addition, several microtubules associated proteins (MAPs) seemed to be involved in the bundling of the microtubules around the chloroplasts. Altogether, the work presented in this thesis highlights several important steps regarding the metabolic adjustments and the cellular mechanisms in Arabidopsis leaves submitted to prolonged darkness. In particular, we suggest the mitochondria to fulfill specific and important functions during leaf senescence since the role of mitochondria in leaves experiencing prolonged darkness appears very dependant on the whole metabolic status of the plant.
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Olivier Keech. From Green to Yellow A Leaf Story. Vegetal Biology. Université Henri Poincaré - Nancy 1, 2007. English. ⟨NNT : 2007NAN10084⟩. ⟨tel-01748251⟩

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