Around the time of this journal's first volume, the concept of PCD, i.e. the cell's active participation in its own demise, was introduced using the example of a plant cell infected by a fungus (1). This was 7 decades before the flurry of apoptosis research in animals. Death during an incompatible interaction between a plant and a pathogen was proposed to function as a physical block to further pathogen ingress. This “program” concept profoundly influenced the mindset of a large number of physiologists studying cell death in various contexts for the rest of the century. Plant physiologists knew that cell death is essential for normal development. Carl Leopold made this point to the general scientific audience in his influential 1961 paper (16) by enumerating the evidence for the selective ecological and evolutionary fitness conferred by cell death in plants, its importance for normal plant physiology, and its control by the balance between both survival and death signals. His publication marked the revival of interest in PCD in the modern era, a decade before Kerr et al. (13) coined the term “apoptosis” to describe the first cell death morphotype in animal cells. Three strands of research came together to
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