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Last update: May 2021

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Sorin Clément

Subcellular modification and nutrient remobilization during Brassica napus leaf senescence: effects of abiotic stresses

PhD defended december 10th, 2014
Direction: Alain Bouchereau & François Mariette


Brassica napus is one of the major oil crops of the world. Due to its low NUE (Nitrogen Use Efficiency) compared to other species, Nitrogen management presents a major economic and environmental goal for improvement of that crop production. As a component of NUE, nutrient remobilization from source to sink tissues takes place mainly during the leaf senescence and is associated to metabolic recycling processes and modification of the cellular organization and structure. The aim of this work was therefore to understand and estimate the amplitude of these structural modifications with the objective to appreciate through these processes remobilization performance according to oilseed rape genotypes and nutritional status in terms of nitrogen and water supply. The leaf structure was investigated through NMR relaxometry, providing access to cellular water status and distribution. The present work demonstrated that the transverse relaxation time (T2) distribution depends on both leaf tissue structure and cellular compartmentalization. The study revealed a process of cell enlargement and hydration during leaf senescence, specifically in the palisade parenchyma and showed that the T2 relaxation time was able to discriminate parenchyma tissues at an early phase of senescence induction. Moreover, the NMR relaxometry signal was shown to reflect specific chronological loss of sub-cellular structuring all along the senescence process progression and was demonstrated to be an accurate non-invasive monitoring method of leaf development. Finally, plant nutrition status experienced through nitrogen and water availability limitation has been demonstrated to strongly affect regular sequential leaf senescence. Consequences on remobilization efficiency by stress conditions have been also assessed through the NMR signal. This work has improved the understanding of leaf structure and functioning at the cell and tissue levels after the onset and during the progression of senescence. Moreover, it was demonstrated that NMR relaxometry provides access to leaf structural information that are not accessible with currently used techniques for plant structural investigations. One of the main applications would be for plant phenotyping, especially for selecting genotypes with higher nutrient remobilization efficiency especially under environmental stresses like nitrogen and water limitations for sustainable oil and protein production.