Autophagy: pathways for self-eating in plant cells

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2012;63:215-37. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105441. Epub 2012 Jan 10.


Plants have developed sophisticated mechanisms to survive when in unfavorable environments. Autophagy is a macromolecule degradation pathway that recycles damaged or unwanted cell materials upon encountering stress conditions or during specific developmental processes. Over the past decade, our molecular and physiological understanding of plant autophagy has greatly increased. Most of the essential machinery required for autophagy seems to be conserved from yeast to plants. Plant autophagy has been shown to function in various stress responses, pathogen defense, and senescence. Some of its potential upstream regulators have also been identified. Here, we describe recent advances in our understanding of autophagy in plants, discuss areas of controversy, and highlight potential future directions in autophagy research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Cells / metabolism*
  • Plant Development / physiology*
  • Plant Diseases
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Ubiquitins / metabolism
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • Ubiquitins