Caloric restriction (CR) extends lifespan in various heterotrophic organisms ranging from yeasts to mammals, but whether a similar phenomenon occurs in plants remains unknown. Plants are autotrophs and use their photosynthetic machinery to convert light energy into the chemical energy of glucose and other organic compounds. As the rate of photosynthesis is proportional to the level of photosynthetically active radiation, the CR in plants can be modeled by lowering light intensity. Here, we report that low light intensity extends the lifespan in Arabidopsis through the mechanisms triggering autophagy, the major catabolic process that recycles damaged and potentially harmful cellular material. Knockout of autophagy-related genes results in the short lifespan and suppression of the lifespan-extending effect of the CR. Our data demonstrate that the autophagy-dependent mechanism of CR-induced lifespan extension is conserved between autotrophs and heterotrophs.
© 2013 The Authors Aging Cell © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.