Reversal of senescence by N resupply to N-starved Arabidopsis thaliana: transcriptomic and metabolomic consequences

J Exp Bot. 2014 Jul;65(14):3975-92. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru119. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Leaf senescence is a developmentally controlled process, which is additionally modulated by a number of adverse environmental conditions. Nitrogen shortage is a well-known trigger of precocious senescence in many plant species including crops, generally limiting biomass and seed yield. However, leaf senescence induced by nitrogen starvation may be reversed when nitrogen is resupplied at the onset of senescence. Here, the transcriptomic, hormonal, and global metabolic rearrangements occurring during nitrogen resupply-induced reversal of senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana were analysed. The changes induced by senescence were essentially in keeping with those previously described; however, these could, by and large, be reversed. The data thus indicate that plants undergoing senescence retain the capacity to sense and respond to the availability of nitrogen nutrition. The combined data are discussed in the context of the reversibility of the senescence programme and the evolutionary benefit afforded thereby. Future prospects for understanding and manipulating this process in both Arabidopsis and crop plants are postulated.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; gene expression; metabolomics; nitrogen limitation; senescence; transcriptome..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Botrytis / drug effects
  • Botrytis / physiology
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Darkness
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Gene Ontology
  • Genes, Plant
  • Metabolome / drug effects
  • Metabolome / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nitrogen / deficiency*
  • Nitrogen / pharmacology*
  • Nucleotide Motifs / genetics
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / drug effects
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Nitrogen