Tansley Review - New Phytologist 171: 501-523 (2006)

Seed dormancy and the control of germination

William E. Finch-Savage (1), Gerhard Leubner-Metzger (2)

(1) Warwick HRI, Warwick University, Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, United Kingdom, Web: 'Seed Science Group' http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/hri2/research/seedscience/

(2) Institut für Biologie II (Botanik/Pflanzenphysiologie), Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Schänzlestr. 1, D-79104 Freiburg i. Br., Germany, Web: 'The Seed Biology Place' http://www.seedbiology.de

Received February 23, 2006; accepted March 27, 2006

Abstract.  Seed dormancy is an innate seed property that defines the environmental conditions in which the seed is able to germinate. It is determined by genetics with a substantial environmental influence which is mediated, at least in part, by the plant hormones abscisic acid and gibberellins. Not only is the dormancy status influenced by the seed maturation environment, it is also continuously changing with time following shedding in a manner determined by the ambient environment. As dormancy is present throughout the higher plants in all major climatic regions adaptation has resulted in divergent responses to the environment. Through this adaptation, germination is timed to avoid unfavourable weather for subsequent plant establishment and reproductive growth. In this review we present an integrated view of the evolution, molecular genetics, physiology, biochemistry, ecology and modelling of seed dormancy mechanisms and their control of germination. We argue that adaptation has taken place on a theme rather than via fundamentally different paths and identify similarities underlying the extensive diversity in dormancy response to the environment that controls germination.

I. Introduction
II. What is dormancy and how is it related to germination
III. How is nondeep physiological dormancy regulated within the seed at the molecular level?
IV. How is nondeep physiological seed dormancy regulated by the environment? Ecophysiology and modelling
V. Conclusions and persepective

Supplementary material: Chapter III.5. Applied aspects of the control of germination by seed dormancy - download PDF file 128 KB

Key words: abscisic acid, Arabidopsis thaliana, coat dormancy, dormancy classification, ecophysiology and modeling, embryo dormancy, endosperm weakening, gibberellin, physiological dormancy, seed after-ripening, seed dormancy, seed evolution, testa mutants

Article in PDF format (2 MB)
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