Genome-wide association of the metabolic shifts underpinning dark-induced senescence in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. 2021 Oct 8;koab251. doi: 10.1093/plcell/koab251. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Dark-induced senescence provokes profound metabolic shifts to recycle nutrients and to guarantee plant survival. To date, research on these processes has largely focused on characterizing mutants deficient in individual pathways. Here, we adopted a time-resolved genome-wide association-based approach to characterize dark-induced senescence by evaluating the photochemical efficiency and content of primary and lipid metabolites at the beginning, or after 3 or 6 days in darkness. We discovered six patterns of metabolic shifts and identified 215 associations with 81 candidate genes being involved in this process. Among these associations, we validated the roles of four genes associated with glycine, galactinol, threonine and ornithine levels. We also demonstrated the function of threonine and galactinol catabolism during dark-induced senescence. Intriguingly, we determined that the association between tyrosine contents and TYROSINE AMINOTRANSFERASE 1 (TAT1) influences enzyme activity of the encoded protein and transcriptional activity of the gene under normal and dark conditions, respectively. Moreover, the single nucleotide polymorphisms affecting the expression of THREONINE ALDOLASE 1 (THA1) and the amino acid transporter gene AVT1B, respectively, only underlie the variation in threonine and glycine levels in the dark. Taken together, these results allow us to present a very detailed model of the metabolic aspects of dark-induced senescence, as well as the process itself.