• All living organisms are unavoidably exposed to various endogenous and environmental stresses that trigger potentially fatal DNA damage, including double-strand breaks (DSBs). Although a growing body of evidence indicates that DNA damage is one of the prime drivers of aging in animals, little is known regarding the importance of DNA damage and its repair on lifespan control in plants. • We found that the level of DSBs increases but DNA repair efficiency decreases as Arabidopsis leaf ages. Generation of DSBs by inducible expression of I-PpoI leads to premature senescence phenotypes. • We examined the senescence phenotypes in the loss-of-function mutants for 13 key components of the DNA repair pathway, and found that the deficiency in ATAXIA TELANGIECTASIA MUTATED (ATM), the chief transducer of the DSB signal, results in premature senescence in Arabidopsis. ATM represses DSB-induced expression of senescence-associated genes, including the genes encoding the WRKY and NAC transcription factors, central components of the leaf senescence process, via modulation of histone lysine methylation. • Our work highlights the significance of ATM in the control of leaf senescence, and has significant implications for the conservation of aging mechanisms in animals and plants.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.