Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a quality control system that degrades mRNAs containing premature termination codons. Although NMD is well characterized in yeast and mammals, plant NMD is poorly understood. We have undertaken the functional dissection of NMD pathways in plants. Using an approach that allows rapid identification of plant NMD trans factors, we demonstrated that two plant NMD pathways coexist, one eliminates mRNAs with long 3'UTRs, whereas a distinct pathway degrades mRNAs harbouring 3'UTR-located introns. We showed that UPF1, UPF2 and SMG-7 are involved in both plant NMD pathways, whereas Mago and Y14 are required only for intron-based NMD. The molecular mechanism of long 3'UTR-based plant NMD resembled yeast NMD, whereas the intron-based NMD was similar to mammalian NMD, suggesting that both pathways are evolutionarily conserved. Interestingly, the SMG-7 NMD component is targeted by NMD, suggesting that plant NMD is autoregulated. We propose that a complex, autoregulated NMD mechanism operated in stem eukaryotes, and that despite aspect of the mechanism being simplified in different lineages, feedback regulation was retained in all kingdoms.