Programmed cell death (PCD) is a fundamental process of life. During the evolution of multicellular organisms, the actively controlled demise of cells has been recruited to fulfil a multitude of functions in development, differentiation, tissue homeostasis, and immune systems. In this review we discuss some of the multiple cases of PCD that occur as integral parts of plant development in a remarkable variety of cell types, tissues, and organs. Although research in the last decade has discovered a number of PCD regulators, mediators, and executers, we are still only beginning to understand the mechanistic complexity that tightly controls preparation, initiation, and execution of PCD as a process that is indispensable for successful vegetative and reproductive development of plants.
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