Plant Programmed Cell Death


Programmed cell death (PCD) in higher plants is observed throughout their development and in pathogenic infection. There is evidence of some mechanistic and morphological similarities to cell death in animals but many fundamental questions related to plant PCD remain to be answered.

Keywords: cell death; tracheids; xylem; salicylic acid; phytohormones; disease resistance; reactive; oxygen; caspase; stress; cytochrome c; alternative oxidase


Alfano JR and Collmer A (1996) Bacterial pathogens in plants: life up against the wall. Plant Cell 8: 1683–1698.

Bethke PC, Lonsdale JE, Fath A and Jones RL (1999) Hormonally regulated programmed cell death in barley aleurone cells. Plant Cell 11: 1033–1046.

Bozhkov PV, Suarez MF and Filonova LH et al. (2005) Cysteine protease mcII‐Pa executes programmed cell death during plant embryogenesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 102: 14463–14468.

Chautan M, Chazal G, Cecconi F, Gruss P and Golstein P (1999) Interdigital cell death can occur through a necrotic and caspase‐independent pathway. Current Biology 9: 967–970.

del Pozo O and Lam E (1998) Caspases and programmed cell death in the hypersensitive response of plants to pathogens. Current Biology 8: 1129–1132.

Dimmeler S, Haendeler J, Nehls M and Zeiher AM (1997) Suppression of apoptosis by nitric oxide via inhibition of interleukin‐1‐Beta‐converting enzyme (Ice)‐like cysteine protease protein (Cpp)‐32‐like proteases. Journal of Experimental Medicine 185: 601–607.

Friedrich L, Vernooij B, Gaffney T, Morse A and Ryals J (1995) Characterization of tobacco plants expressing a bacterial salicylate hydroxylase gene. Plant Molecular Biology 29: 959–968.

Fukuda H (2000) Programmed cell death of tracheary elements as a paradigm in plants. Plant Molecular Biology 44: 245–253.

Gray J and Johal GS (1998) Programmed cell death in plants. Annual Plant Reviews 1: 360–394.

Groover A and Jones AM (1999) Tracheary element differentiation uses a novel mechanism coordinating programmed cell death and secondary cell wall synthesis. Plant Physiology 119: 375–384.

Hatsugai N, Kuroyanagi M and Yamada K et al. (2004) A plant vacuolar protease, VPE, mediates virus‐induced hypersensitive cell death. Science 305: 855–858.

Lacomme C and Santa Cruz S (1999) Bax‐induced cell death in tobacco is similar to the hypersensitive response. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 96: 7956–7961.

Lam E (2004) Controlled cell death, plant survival and development. Nature Reviews in Molecular Cellular Biology 5: 305–314.

Lam E (2005) Vacuolar proteases livening up programmed cell death. Trends in Cell Biology 15: 124–127.

Liu Y, Schiff M, Czymmek K, Talloczy Z, Levine B and Dinesh‐Kumar SP (2005) Autophagy regulates programmed cell death during the plant innate immune response. Cell 121: 567–577.

Madeo F, Herker E and Maldener C et al. (2002) A caspase‐related protease regulates apoptosis in yeast. Molecular Cell 9: 911–917.

Navarre DA and Wolpert TJ (1999) Victorin induction of an apoptotic/senescence‐like response in oats. Plant Cell 11: 237–249.

Panavas T, Pikula A, Reid PD, Rubinstein B and Walker EL (1999) Identification of senescence‐associated genes from daylily petals. Plant Molecular Biology 40: 237–248.

Pennell RI and Lamb C (1997) Programmed cell death in plants. Plant Cell 9: 1157–1168.

Schwartz LM, Smith SW, Jones ME and Osborne BA (1993) Do all programmed cell deaths occur via apoptosis? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 90: 980–984.

Solomon M, Belenghi B, Delledonne M, Menachem E and Levine A (1999) The involvement of cysteine proteases and protease inhibitor genes in the regulation of programmed cell death in plants. Plant Cell 11: 431–444.

Uren AG, O’Rourke K and Aravind L et al. (2000) Identification of paracaspases and metacaspases: two ancient families of caspase‐like proteins, one of which plays a key role in MALT lymphoma. Molecular Cell 6: 961–967.

Vercammen D, van de Cotte B and de Jaeger G et al. (2004) Type II metacaspases Atmc4 and Atmc9 of Arabidopsis thaliana cleave substrates after arginine and lysine. Journal of Biological Chemistry 279: 45329–45336.

Watanabe N and Lam E (2004) Recent advance in the study of caspase‐like proteases and Bax inhibitor‐1 in plants: their possible roles as regulator of programmed cell death. Molecular Plant Pathology 5: 65–70.

Watanabe N and Lam E (2005) Two Arabidopsis metacaspases AtMCP1b and AtMCP2b are arginine/lysine‐specific cysteine proteases and activate apoptosis‐like cell death in yeast. Journal of Biological Chemistry 280: 14691–14699.

Watanabe N and Lam E (2006) Arabidopsis Bax inhibitor‐1 functions as an attenuator of biotic and abiotic types of cell death. Plant Journal 45: 884–894.

Young TE and Gallie DR (1999) Analysis of programmed cell death in wheat endosperm reveals differences in endosperm development between cereals. Plant Molecular Biology 39: 915–926.

Further Reading

Blackstone NW and Green DR (1999) The evolution of a mechanism of cell suicide. BioEssays 21: 84–88.

Gilchrist DG (1998) Programmed cell death in plant disease: the purpose and promise of cellular suicide. Annual Review of Phytopathology 36: 393–414.

Gray J (ed.) (2004) Paradigms of the evolution of programmed cell death. In: Programmed Cell Death in Plants, pp. 1–25. Oxford, UK: Blackwell

Seay M and Dinesh‐Kuman SP (2005) Life after death: are autophagy genes involved in cell death and survival during plant innate immune responses? Autophagy 1: 185–186.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Lam, Eric(Sep 2006) Plant Programmed Cell Death. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001689.pub2]