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Leaf abscission is a common response of plants to drought stress. Some species, such as citrus, have evolved a specific behaviour in this respect, keeping their leaves attached to the plant body during water stress until this is released by irrigation or rain. This study successfully reproduced this phenomenon under controlled conditions (24h of water stress followed by 24h of rehydration) and used it to construct a suppression subtractive hybridization cDNA library enriched in genes involved in the early stages of rehydration-promoted leaf abscission after water stress. Sequencing of the library yielded 314 unigenes, which were spotted onto nylon membranes. Membrane hybridization with petiole (Pet)- and laminar abscission zone (LAZ)-enriched RNA samples corresponding to early steps in leaf abscission revealed an almost exclusive preferential gene expression programme in the LAZ. The data identified major processes such as protein metabolism, cell-wall modification, signalling, control of transcription and vesicle production, and transport as the main biological processes activated in LAZs during the early steps of rehydration-promoted leaf abscission after water stress. Based on these findings, a model for the early steps of citrus leaf abscission is proposed. In addition, it is suggested that CitbHLH1, the putative citrus orthologue of Arabidopsis BIGPETAL, may play major roles in the control of abscission-related events in citrus abscission zones.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Bot

Publication Date





6079 - 6091


Amino Acid Sequence, Arabidopsis, Cell Wall, Citrus, Dehydration, Ethylenes, Flowers, Fruit, Gene Expression, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Gene Library, Models, Biological, Molecular Sequence Data, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Plant Growth Regulators, Plant Leaves, Plant Proteins, RNA, Plant, Sequence Alignment, Signal Transduction, Stress, Physiological, Water