Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 491–499 | Cite as

Autophagy, programmed cell death and reactive oxygen species in sexual reproduction in plants

  • Takamitsu Kurusu
  • Kazuyuki Kuchitsu
JPR Symposium Fusion in Fertilization: Interdisciplinary Collaboration among Plant and Animal Scientists


Autophagy is one of the major cellular processes of recycling of proteins, metabolites and intracellular organelles, and plays crucial roles in the regulation of innate immunity, stress responses and programmed cell death (PCD) in many eukaryotes. It is also essential in development and sexual reproduction in many animals. In plants, although autophagy-deficient mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana show phenotypes in abiotic and biotic stress responses, their life cycle seems normal and thus little had been known until recently about the roles of autophagy in development and reproduction. Rice mutants defective in autophagy show sporophytic male sterility and immature pollens, indicating crucial roles of autophagy during pollen maturation. Enzymatic production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by respiratory burst oxidase homologues (Rbohs) play multiple roles in regulating anther development, pollen tube elongation and fertilization. Significance of autophagy and ROS in the regulation of PCD of transient cells during plant sexual reproduction is discussed in comparison with animals.


Autophagy Fertilization Programmed cell death (PCD) Reactive oxygen species (ROS) Sexual reproduction Vacuole 



Autophagy-related genes


Membranous organelle


Mitochondrial DNA


Programmed cell death


Reactive oxygen species


Respiratory burst oxidase homologues


Vacuolar processing enzyme



We thank Dr. Shigeru Hanamata and Ms. Tomoko Koyano for technical assistance. This work was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for Young Scientists (B) (15K21450) to TK, for Innovative Areas (16H01207; 15H01239) to KK, for challenging Exploratory Research (15K14681) to KK, and in part by Asahi Glass Foundation to TK.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Bioscience and BiotechnologyTokyo University of TechnologyHachiojiJapan
  2. 2.Imaging Frontier CenterTokyo University of ScienceNodaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Applied Biological ScienceTokyo University of ScienceNodaJapan

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