* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received August 23, 2001; Revision received September 20, 2001
Apoptosis was observed in the initial leaf of 5-8-day-old etiolated wheat seedlings. A condensation of cytoplasm in apoptotic cells, formation of myelin-like structures, specific fragmentation of cytoplasm, appearance in vacuoles of specific vesicles containing subcellular organelles, condensation and margination of chromatin in the nucleus, and internucleosomal fragmentation of nuclear DNA are ultrastructural features of apoptosis in the initial wheat leaf. Single-membrane vesicles detected in vacuoles of the leaf cells resemble in appearance the vacuolar vesicles in the coleoptile apoptotic cells described earlier (Bakeeva, L. E., et al. (1999) FEBS Lett., 457, 122-125); they contain preferentially plastids but not mitochondria as was observed in coleoptile. The vacuolar vesicles are specific for the apoptotic plant cells. Thus, apoptosis in various tissues is an obligatory element of plant (wheat) growth and development even in the early stages of ontogenesis. Contrary to strong geroprotecting action in coleoptile, the known antioxidant BHT (ionol, 2.27*10-4 M) does not prevent in the leaf cells the apoptotic internucleosomal DNA fragmentation and appearance of specific vacuolar vesicles containing subcellular organelles. Therefore, the antioxidant action on apoptosis in plants is tissue specific. Peroxides (H2O2, cumene hydroperoxide) stimulated apoptosis (internucleosomal DNA fragmentation) in coleoptile and induced it in an initial leaf when apoptosis in a control seedling leaf was not yet detected. Thus, apoptosis that is programmed in plant ontogenesis and controlled by reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be modulated by anti- and prooxidants.
KEY WORDS: aging, antioxidant, apoptosis, BHT, cell ultrastructure, DNA fragmentation, leaf, ontogenesis, peroxides, plant, plastid differentiation, wheat