Elucidating mechanisms underlying organ abscission
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Abscission consists in the detachment of entire vegetative and reproductive organs due to cell separation processes occurring at the abscission zones (AZs) at specific positions of the plant body. From an evolutionary point of view, abscission is a highly advantageous process resulting into fruit and seed dispersal as well as the shedding of no longer useful organs. In an agricultural context, however, abscission may become a major limiting factor for crop productivity. Domestication of major crops included the selection of plants that did not naturally shed ripe fruits or seeds. The understanding of abscission is of great importance to control seed and fruit production and to improve breeding and harvesting practices. Thus, advances made on model plants and crops are of major importance since they may provide potential candidate genes for further biotechnological applications. Here, we review the current knowledge of the physiological, genetic and genomic aspects related to abscission including the most recently disclosed putative regulators that appear to be implicated in the development and/or activation of the AZs. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.