A new study in Nature by Chen et al. found that mother plants play a crucial role in controlling the dormancy and dispersal of their progeny seeds. The study focused on Arabidopsis seed dormancy, imposed by the embryo-surrounding tissues of the endosperm and seed coat.
The study showed that VERNALIZATION5/VIN3-LIKE 3 (VEL3) maintains maternal control over progeny seed dormancy by establishing an epigenetic state in the central cell. This priming of primary seed dormancy is later established during seed maturation. VEL3 was found to colocalize with MSI1 in the nucleolus and associate with a histone deacetylase complex. Additionally, VEL3 preferentially associates with pericentromeric chromatin and is required for deacetylation and H3K27me3 deposition established in the central cell.
The epigenetic state established by maternal VEL3 is retained in mature seeds and controls seed dormancy, partly through repression of the programmed cell death-associated gene ORE1. The study’s findings demonstrate how maternal control of progeny seed physiology persists post-shedding, maintaining parental control of seed behavior.
The study’s findings provide important insights into the control of seed dormancy and dispersal, highlighting the role of maternal plants in determining the behavior of their progeny. This has implications for developing new strategies for improving crop yield and enhancing plant adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
By understanding the mechanisms by which maternal control of progeny seed physiology is established and maintained, researchers can develop new approaches for breeding plants with desirable traits such as increased yield and resistance to stress. The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of scientific research in understanding the complex processes that underlie plant growth and development.
As global populations grow, ensuring food security and sustainability will become increasingly important. The findings of this study offer a promising new approach to improving crop yields and addressing the challenges associated with feeding a growing population.
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