Conclusions

There is evidence that PCD occurs in a wide range of cell types during differentiation and that PCD plays an important role during plant development and survival. It is too soon to conclude whether or not PCD in plant cell differentiation faithfully parallels apoptosis in animal cells, but there are sufficient indications to suggest that the possibility of commonality deserves further attention. It is impressive that the process is conserved in all life forms. Whether PCD in plant cells follows many divergent and independent pathways or has a common basis, is far from clear at present. Cytosolic Ca2+ is one second-messenger that is implicated in many different cell types during PCD, but the specific proteins that are activated by Ca2+ thereby leading to PCD are unknown. Also too little is known about the genes encoding regulators of cell death in plant cells. Improved understanding of PCD, and its manipulation for plant improvement, are likely goals for this area of plant research in the future.

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