Failure to repair DNA double strand breaks (DSB) can lead to chromosomal rearrangements and eventually to cancer or cell death. Radiation and environmental pollutants induce DSB and this is of particular relevance to plants due to their sessile life style. DSB also occur naturally in cells during DNA replication and programmed induction of DSB initiates the meiotic recombination essential for gametogenesis in most eukaryotes. The linear nature of most eukaryotic chromosomes means that each chromosome has two "broken" ends. Chromosome ends, or telomeres, are protected by nucleoprotein caps which avoid their recognition as DSB by the cellular DNA repair machinery. Deprotected telomeres are recognized as DSB and become substrates for recombination leading to chromosome fusions, the "bridge-breakage-fusion" cycle, genome rearrangements and cell death. The importance of repair of DSB and the severity of the consequences of their misrepair have led to the presence of multiple, robust mechanisms for their detection and repair. After a brief overview of DSB repair pathways to set the context, we present here an update of current understanding of the detection and signalling of DSB in the plant, Arabidopsis thaliana
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