Metabolism and autophagy in plants—a perfect match

Sahar Magen, Heike Seybold, Daniel Laloum, Tamar Avin-Wittenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Autophagy is a eukaryotic cellular transport mechanism that delivers intracellular macromolecules, proteins, and even organelles to a lytic organelle (vacuole in yeast and plants/lysosome in animals) for degradation and nutrient recycling. The process is mediated by highly conserved autophagy-related (ATG) proteins. In plants, autophagy maintains cellular homeostasis under favorable conditions, guaranteeing normal plant growth and fitness. Severe stress such as nutrient starvation and plant senescence further induce it, thus ensuring plant survival under unfavorable conditions by providing nutrients through the removal of damaged or aged proteins, or organelles. In this article, we examine the interplay between metabolism and autophagy, focusing on the different aspects of this reciprocal relationship. We show that autophagy has a strong influence on a range of metabolic processes, whereas at the same time, even single metabolites can activate autophagy. We highlight the involvement of ATG genes in metabolism, examine the role of the macronutrients carbon and nitrogen, and various micronutrients, and take a closer look at how the interaction between autophagy and metabolism impacts on plant phenotypes and yield.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2133-2151
Number of pages19
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number17
Early online date25 Apr 2022
StatePublished Online - 25 Apr 2022


  • ATG genes
  • Arabidopsis
  • autophagy
  • carbon
  • crops
  • metabolism
  • micronutrients
  • nitrogen
  • plant
  • yield

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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