Fine drying: Seed preparation for the dry state

Most seeds survive losing almost all their cellular water during development. This interesting ability, called desiccation tolerance (DT), forms the basis for long term seed storage and it is critical for plant biodiversity conservation, agriculture and food security. Most seeds undergo drying at the end of their maturation and their cells are efficiently protected against irreversible damages by important compounds such as Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins. Interestingly some genes necessary for DT, including LEAs, are expressed during maturation, but their corresponding proteins accumulate much later during seed drying. This suggests that there is a temporal control of gene expression and protein production during seed maturation for proper DT acquisition. In this project we are investigating how DT-related gene expression and protein accumulation are regulated during Arabidopsis thaliana seed maturation and drying by combining physiological experiments with ‘omics’ data generation. Our main goal is to provide a more complete picture of the gene regulatory networks (GRNs) underlying acquisition of DT in seeds.

Funding: NWO-Veni

Collaborating parties: BASF-Nunhems, Bejo Zaden, Rijk-Zwaan.