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Plant Apoptosis

There is ample irony in the fact that biologists still argue whether programmed cell death in plants may be defined as "apoptotic cell death" (K.Y. Kreeger, The Scientist, Nov. 11, 1996, page 13). After all, the term "apoptosis" itself originates from the plant kingdom-describing the shedding of tree leaves in fall. This is precisely why this term was chosen to describe the event of programmed cell death by the authors of the landmark 1972 paper describing it for the first time (J.F. Kerr et al

David Gurwitz

There is ample irony in the fact that biologists still argue whether programmed cell death in plants may be defined as "apoptotic cell death" (K.Y. Kreeger, The Scientist, Nov. 11, 1996, page 13). After all, the term "apoptosis" itself originates from the plant kingdom-describing the shedding of tree leaves in fall. This is precisely why this term was chosen to describe the event of programmed cell death by the authors of the landmark 1972 paper describing it for the first time (J.F. Kerr et al., "Apoptosis: A basic biological phenomenon with wide-ranging implications in tissue kinetics," British Journal of Cancer, 26:239-57, 1972).

More to the point, I completely agree with the article's statement that "all the discussion of apoptosis in plants is merely an exercise in semantics." As Barbara Osborne said in the article, "The cells are dying in a developmental or programmed fashion whether...

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