Aging Cell 2013 Apr 28;12(2):327-9. Epub 2013 Feb 28.
Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center for Plant Biology, PO Box 7080, Uppsala, SE-75007, Sweden.
Caloric restriction (CR) extends lifespan in various heterotrophic organisms ranging from yeasts to mammals, but whether a similar phenomenon occurs in plants remains unknown. Plants are autotrophs and use their photosynthetic machinery to convert light energy into the chemical energy of glucose and other organic compounds. As the rate of photosynthesis is proportional to the level of photosynthetically active radiation, the CR in plants can be modeled by lowering light intensity. Here, we report that low light intensity extends the lifespan in Arabidopsis through the mechanisms triggering autophagy, the major catabolic process that recycles damaged and potentially harmful cellular material. Knockout of autophagy-related genes results in the short lifespan and suppression of the lifespan-extending effect of the CR. Our data demonstrate that the autophagy-dependent mechanism of CR-induced lifespan extension is conserved between autotrophs and heterotrophs.