Sequential steps for developmental arrest in Arabidopsis seeds

V Raz, J H Bergervoet, M Koornneef
Development 2001, 128 (2): 243-52
The continuous growth of the plant embryo is interrupted during the seed maturation processes which results in a dormant seed. The embryo continues development after germination when it grows into a seedling. The embryo growth phase starts after morphogenesis and ends when the embryo fills the seed sac. Very little is known about the processes regulating this phase. We describe mutants that affect embryo growth in two sequential developmental stages. Firstly, embryo growth arrest is regulated by the FUS3/LEC type genes, as mutations in these genes cause a continuation of growth in immature embryos. Secondly, a later stage of embryo dormancy is regulated by ABI3 and abscisic acid; abi3 and aba1 mutants exhibit premature germination only after embryos mature. Mutations affecting both developmental stages result in an additive phenotype and double mutants are highly viviparous. Embryo growth arrest is regulated by cell division activities in both the embryo and the endosperm, which are gradually switched off at the mature embryo stage. In the fus3/lec mutants, however, cell division in both the embryo and endosperm is not arrested, but rather is prolonged throughout seed maturation. Furthermore ectopic cell division occurs in seedlings. Our results indicate that seed dormancy is secured via at least two sequential developmental processes: embryo growth arrest, which is regulated by cell division and embryo dormancy.

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