Molecular genetic control of seed germination in Arabidopsis thaliana

Land plants' success to colonize different continental environments lies in part in their ability to produce seeds: structures encapsulating plant embryos, keeping them in an inert and osmotolerant state. The first step towards the adult phase of the plant is that of seed germination, a process whereby the embryo develops into a photosynthetic young seedling.

Since the embryo abandons a highly protected state, it is not surprising that germination is controlled by the environmental conditions faced by the seed. Thus, germination responds to the quality of light (e.g. favorable sun light vs unfavorable canopy light) or water (e.g. fresh vs salty water). Environmental cues determine the levels of the phytohormones gibberrellic acid (GA) and abscisic acid (ABA). GA is necessary to initiate germination by promoting the destruction of germination repressors; the DELLA factors RGL2, GAI and RGA. ABA is synthesized upon osmotic stress and blocks germination by inducing the expression of germination repressors; the transcription factors ABI3 and ABI5.

Our work mainly focuses on understanding how GA- and ABA-dependent control of seed germination is coordinated in response to environmental cues.


Recent Publications

  • The plant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa triggers a DELLA-dependent seed germination arrest in Arabidopsis
    Chahtane, Hicham; Fuller, Thanise Nogueira; Allard, Pierre-Marie; et al.
    ELIFE   Volume: 7     Article Number: e37082   DOI: 10.7554/eLife.37082  Published: AUG 28 2018
  • Chloroplast Biogenesis Controlled by DELLA-TOC159 Interaction in Early Plant Development
    Shanmugabalaji, Venkatasalam; Chahtane, Hicham; Accossato, Sonia; et al.
    CURRENT BIOLOGY   Volume: 28   Issue: 16   Pages: 2616-+ 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.006  Published: AUG 20 2018
  • A Maternally Deposited Endosperm Cuticle Contributes to the Physiological Defects of transparent testa Seeds
    Loubery, Sylvain; De Giorgi, Julien; Utz-Pugin, Anne; et al.
    PLANT PHYSIOLOGY   Volume: 177   Issue: 3   Pages: 1218-1233 10.1104/pp.18.00416  Published: JUL 2018
  • Primary seed dormancy: a temporally multilayered riddle waiting to be unlocked 
    Chahtane, Hicham; Kim, Woohyun; Lopez-Molina, Luis 
    JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 68 (4): 857-869 10.1093/jxb/erw377  FEB 2017
  • Dormancy-specific imprinting underlies maternal inheritance of seed dormancy in Arabidopsis thaliana 
    Piskurewicz, Urszula; Iwasaki, Mayumi; Susaki, Daichi; et al. 
    ELIFE, 5: 10.7554/eLife.19573  DEC 22 2016
Luis Lopez-Molina UniGeneva

Prof. Dr. Luis Lopez-Molina
University of Geneva
Department of Botany and Plant Biology
1211 Geneva

Tel. +41 (0)22 379 32 06

Research topics

  • Hormone signaling (Abscisic Acid, Gibberellic Acid)
  • Biosynthesis and action of the plant hormones Absicisic acid and Gibberellins
  • Phytochromes, light responses
  • Plant Developmental Genetics



  • Chemical signaling in plants
  • Embryogenesis, seed maturation
  • Plant responses to environmental signals
  • Auxin, ethylene and brassinosteroid signaling