DNA degradation during programmed cell death in Phaseolus coccineus suspensor

Plant Physiol Biochem. Mar-Apr 2007;45(3-4):221-7. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2007.01.014. Epub 2007 Feb 8.


The suspensor of Phaseolus coccineus L. degenerates at the cotyledonary stage of embryogenesis when it is no longer necessary for continued embryonic development; this degeneration is considered to be a typical example of the so-called developmental programmed cell death (PCD) in plants. The presence of specific hallmarks of PCD as it occurs during the degeneration of P. coccineus suspensor was investigated in the current study. By using the TUNEL assay and electrophoretic analysis, we found evidence of nuclear DNA degradation, a known feature of PCD, in the endosperm and degenerating suspensors. Degeneration of the suspensor begins after degeneration in the endosperm and it starts in the neck region, spreading basipetally towards the knob. We conclude from this study that suspensor degeneration in P. coccineus occurs by means of PCD and displays typical hallmarks of PCD, such as DNA fragmentation. PCD in the suspensor is a highly asynchronous process, originating first in the neck cells and subsequently spreading to the basal cells.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • DNA Fragmentation*
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • DNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Phaseolus / cytology
  • Phaseolus / genetics


  • DNA, Plant