Precise and timely regulation of organ separation from the parent plant (abscission) is consequential to improvement of crop productivity as it influences both the timing of harvest and fruit quality. Abscission is tightly associated with plant fitness as unwanted organs (petals, sepals, filaments) are shed after fertilization while seeds, fruits, and leaves are cast off as means of reproductive success or in response to abiotic/biotic stresses. Floral organ abscission in Arabidopsis has been a useful model to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie the separation processes, and multiple abscission signals associated with the activation and downstream pathways have been uncovered. Concomitantly, large-scale analyses of omics studies in diverse abscission systems of various plants have added valuable insights into the abscission process. The results suggest that there are common molecular events linked to the biosynthesis of a new extracellular matrix as well as cell wall disassembly. Comparative analysis between Arabidopsis and soybean abscission systems has revealed shared and yet disparate regulatory modules that affect the separation processes. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the transcriptional regulation of abscission in several different plants that has improved on the previously proposed four-phased model of organ separation.
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