Markers for seed stress tolerance and seed vigour

During the initial stages of seed germination many processes occur, which are invisible, but greatly affect the physiology of the seed. For instance, the onset of germination processes during seed priming, results in accelerated germination in the field, but also in reduced storability of the seeds.

To optimise seed priming treatments and to get a better understanding of processes underlying seed vigour novel tools are being developed. In previous years much research has been performed on analysis of cell cycle activity during seed germination. At present the attention is more focussed on gene expression profiling using cDNA micro-arrays. Gene expression is studied during seed maturation (increase in stress tolerance), priming (loss of stress tolerance) and subsequent slow drying (regaining of stress tolerance).

Using proteomic approaches we focus on the analysis of nuclear proteins involved in DNA packaging and protection. Using a high-throughput flow sorter we are able to purify nuclei from different developmental stages or having different characteristics, which can subsequently be analysed using 2D electrophoresis and protein sequencing

Research team

Jan H.W. Bergervoet, Yvonne E. Birnbaum, Martijn Fiers, Evert Davelaar and Steven P.C. Groot


In the project there is collaboration with several European universities and research institutions, among others in the frame of a running EU-supported project: STOVE

  • Stress tolerance of seeds to physical seed treatments
  • Genetics of seed stress tolerance
  • Cell cycle activity during seed germination
  • Mitochondrial integrity as marker for seed vigour

Hong, T.D., R.H. Ellis, D. Astley, A.E. Pinnegar,  S.P.C. Groot and H.L. Kraak. 2005. Survival and vigour of ultra-dry seeds after ten years of hermetic storage. Seed Sci. & Technol. 33: 449-460.

Soeda, Y., M.C.J.M. Konings, O. Vorst, A.M.M.L. van Houwelingen, G. M. Stoopen, C.A. Maliepaard, J.Kodde, R.J. Bino, S.P.C. Groot, and A.H.M. van der Geest. 2005. Gene expression programs during Brassica oleracea seed maturation, osmopriming and germination are Indicators of progression of the germination process and the stress tolerance level. Plant Physiology 137: 354-368.

Barroco R.M,. K. Van Poucke, J.H. Bergervoet, L. De Veylder, S.P.C. Groot , D. Inze, G. Engler. 2005. The role of the cell cycle machinery in resumption of postembryonic development. Plant Physiology.137: 127-140.

Toorop P.E., R.M. Barroco, G. Engler, S.P.C. Groot and H.W.M. Hilhorst. 2005. Differentially expressed genes associated with dormancy or germination of Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. Planta 221: 637-647.

Clerkx, E.J.M., H. Blankestijn-de Vries, G.J. Ruys, S.P.C. Groot & M. Koornneef. 2004. Genetic differences in seed longevity of various Arabidopsis mutants. Phys. Plantarum 121: 448-461.

Clerkx, E.J., M.E. El-Lithy, E. Vierling, G.J. Ruys, H. Blankestijn-De Vries, S.P.C. Groot, D. Vreugdenhil & M. Koornneef. 2004. Analysis of natural allelic variation of Arabidopsis seed germination and seed longevity traits between the accessions Landsberg erecta and Shakdara, using a new recombinant inbred line population. Plant Physiol.135(1):432-43.

Toorop P.E., S.P.C. Groot & H.W.M. Hilhorst. 2003. Expression of a ribosomal protein gene during germination of cabbage (Brassica oleracea f. oleracea) seeds. In: Biology of seeds: Recent Research Advances (eds. G. Nicolás, K.J. Bradford, D. Côme and H.W. Pritchard): 191-197.

Groot, S.P.C., Y. Soeda, G. Stoopen, M.C.J.M. Konings & A.H.M. van der Geest. 2003. Gene expression during loss and regaining of stress tolerance at seed priming and drying. In: Biology of seeds: Recent Research Advances (eds. G. Nicolás, K.J. Bradford, D. Côme and H.W. Pritchard): 279-287.

Gallardo K., C. Job, S.P.C. Groot, M. Puype, H. Demol, J. Vandekerckhove & D. Job. 2003. Proteomics of Arabidopsis seed germination and priming. . In: Biology of seeds: Recent Research Advances (eds. G. Nicolás, K.J. Bradford, D. Côme and H.W. Pritchard): 199-210.

Clerkx, E.J.M., H. Blankestijn-De Vries, G.J. Ruys, S.P.C. Groot & M. Koornneef. 2003 Characterization of green seed, an enhancer of abi3-1 in Arabidopsis that affects seed longevity. Plant Physiology 132: 1077-1084.

Tesnier, K., H.M. Strookman-Donkers, J.G. van Pijlen, A.H.M. van der Geest, R.J. Bino & S.P.C. Groot. 2002. A controlled deterioration test for Arabidopsis thaliana seed quality reveals genetic variation in seed quality. Seed science and Technology 30: 149-165.

K'Opondo, F.B.O. Auma, E.O. Mathenge, P.W. Groot, S.P.C. Hilhorst, H.W.M. 2002. Use of salicylic acid in vigour testing with cabbage (Brassica oleracea Var. capitata L.) and cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) seeds. Agrotech 1: 14-15.

Groot, S.P.C. 2002. Seeds to survive. Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech 13: 41-42

Gallardo, K., C. Job, S.P.C. Groot, M. Puype, J. Vandekerckhove & D. Job. 2002. Proteomics of Arabidopsis Seed Germination. A comparative study of wild-type and gibberellin-deficient seed. Plant Physiol. 129:823-837

Gallardo, K., C. Job, S.P.C. Groot, M. Puype, J. Vandekerckhove & D. Job. 2002. Importance of methionine biosynthesis for Arabidopsis seed germination and seedling growth. Physiologia Plantarum 116: 238-247.

Gallardo, K., C. Job, S.P.C. Groot, M. Puype, H. Demol, J. Vandekerckove & D. Job, 2001. Proteomic analysis of Arabidopsis seed germination and priming. Plant Physiology 126: 835-848.

GreenFlow™ the flow cytometry facility

The project closely collaborates with the GreenFlow ™, the flow cytometry and flow sorting facility of Wageningen University and Research centre.