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Deciphering the regulatory role of reactive oxygen species in plant ageing through an integrative genetics and genomics approach


Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

University of Potsdam

Potsdam, Germany

Massey University

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Main Objectives

Establishment of a lasting cooperation between the partners by executing joint research programs aimed at:

  • Identifying genes that regulate senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana.
  • Unraveling the mechanisms by which the ROS signaling pathway interacts with the senescence pathway and with the circadian clock to fine-tune plant ageing and lengthen lifespan.


Plant senescence is a genetically controlled process modulated by environmental factors. A number of genes that influence ageing have been identified over the recent years; while mutations in most of them accelerate senescence, some delay senescence and thus extend lifespan. Experimental evidence strongly indicates that many more genes than functionally characterized so far contribute to the control of plant ageing. Moreover, very little is currently known about how these genes interact and to what extent developmental signals, environmental factors, phytohormones, and in particular the circadian clock modulate their activity and interactions. Recent research shows that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a critical role in the control of senescence. The aim of this project is to uncover new elements of the ROS regulatory pathway that modulate senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana and to unravel the mechanisms by which these genes interact with each other and with the internal clock. Mutants with accelerated and delayed senescence, previously isolated by our teams, will be subjected to genetic, genomic, and biochemical analyses. Identification of the mutated genes causing the altered senescence, molecular analysis by RNAseq and qRT-PCR, proteome and metabolome profiling will help to understand how these genes regulate lifespan. Unraveling the genetic mechanisms of plant ageing and lifespan regulation is of both, fundamental and practical importance for generating crops with improved yield and shelf life.


This project is funded by EU, FP7 (International Research Staff Exchange Scheme - Marie Curie Actions), under the Grant Agreement No 612630