Autophagy is an intracellular process for the vacuolar degradation of cytoplasmic components and is important for nutrient recycling during starvation. Chloroplasts can be partially mobilized to the vacuole by autophagy via spherical bodies named Rubisco-containing bodies (RCBs). Although chloroplasts contain approximately 80% of total leaf nitrogen and represent a major carbon and nitrogen source for recycling, the relationship between leaf nutrient status and RCB production remains unclear. We analyzed the effects of nutrient factors on the appearance of RCBs in Arabidopsis leaves and postulated that a close relationship exists between the autophagic degradation of chloroplasts via RCBs and leaf carbon status but not nitrogen status in autophagy. The importance of carbohydrates in RCB production during leaf senescence can be further argued. During nitrogen-limited senescence, as leaf carbohydrates were accumulated, RCB production was strongly suppressed. During the life span of leaves, RCB production increased with the progression of leaf expansion and senescence, while the production declined in late senescent leaves with a remarkable accumulation of carbohydrates, glucose and fructose. These results suggest that RCB production may be controlled by leaf carbon status during both induced and natural senescence
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