The wound response in fresh-cut lettuce involves programmed cell death events

Elena T. Iakimova, Ernst J. Woltering*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, the involvement of programmed cell death (PCD) in the wound-induced postharvest browning disorder and senescence in butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) fresh-cuts was studied. At the wounded (cut, bruised) sites, rapid browning, loss of chlorophyll and massive cell death, accompanied with accumulation of reactive oxygen species and increased electrolyte leakage occurred in a narrow strip of tissue adjacent the injury. The dead cell morphology (protoplast and nuclei shrinkage) together with the biochemical and physiological changes resembled necrotic PCD type. With a slight delay post-wounding, senescence associated with similar cell death features was initiated in distant non-wounded sites. In addition to necrotic PCD, both in wounded and senescing tissue, the appearance of empty cell corpses was observed, indicating that part of the cells might undergo vacuolar PCD (self-digestion of cellular content after vacuole collapse). The wounding-induced local cell death at the primary site of damage suggested that PCD may serve as a mechanism to seal-off the wound by building a physical barrier of dead cells. However, the cell death at sites remote from the wound suggests the distribution of long-distance senescence-inducing wound messengers. Trichomes in unwounded tissue often were the first to show H2O2 accumulation and dead cells; thereafter, the elevated H2O2 and cell death appeared in connecting cells and senescence progressed over larger areas. This suggests that trichomes may contribute to mediating the wound signalling leading to subsequent senescence. Our findings demonstrate that PCD is an integral part of the wound syndrome in fresh-cut lettuce.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1238
Issue number4
Early online date22 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Cell death
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lactuca sativa L.
  • Senescence
  • Wounding

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