EU project Genetic and Molecular markers for seed quality

Seed quality is of basic importance for a good seedling establishment and crop management. Previously, European researchers, involved in the project, have shown that analysis of cell cycle activity, including DNA repair, DNA replication and levels of specific proteins, have great potentials as markers for monitoring seed germination and seed quality.

However, seed germination is a complex system and it is the experience of the seed industry that at least several markers are needed, both to monitor the different stages of germination, and to be applied to a wide variety of crops. The project aims to identify genetic and molecular markers to develop quick tests for monitoring seed germination and testing seed quality.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To gain a strategic understanding of the processes that occur during seed germination, with a broad range of species.   
  • To select genetic and molecular markers.
  • To develop quick tests that can be exploited by the seed industry and seed testing stations.
  • To provide the growers and farmers with improved predictions for field performance of seeds.

To reach these objectives a co-operation is established between ten European research and industrial partners involved in the fields of seed research, molecular biology, genetics, flow cytometry, industrial seed production and analytical test development. Information initially obtained with cabbage and arabidopsis will be applied to other agricultural crops. The processes studied are DNA repair, DNA replication, other cell cycle activities and protein degradation. Besides this, new germination specific genes and proteins are isolated and their regulation studied. The project intends to result in genetic and molecular markers for seed germination, which can be exploited by the industry and seed testing stations. This will improve the competitiveness of the European seed industry and provide farmers with more reliable predictions about the quality of the purchased seeds. The proposal is one of the results from the EC supported concerted action project AIR3-CT94-1863 'Integration of physiological and molecular disciplines in seed quality analysis'.