Molecular genetic control of seed germination in Arabidopsis thaliana

Plant Developmental Genetics, Hormone Signaling

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

  • See all publications on ORCID:
  • The Arabidopsis endosperm is a temperature-sensing tissue that implements seed thermoinhibition through phyB
    Urszula Piskurewicz; Maria Sentandreu; Mayumi Iwasaki; Gaëtan Glauser; Luis Lopez-Molina
    Nature Communications 2023-03-07 | Journal article, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36903-4

  • Parental and Environmental Control of Seed Dormancy in Arabidopsis thaliana.
    Iwasaki M; Penfield S; Luis Lopez-Molina
    Annual review of plant biology, 2022-02-09 | DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-102820-090750

  • The Arabidopsis mature endosperm promotes seedling cuticle formation via release of sulfated peptides
    De Giorgi, Julien; Fuchs, Christelle; Iwasaki, Mayumi; Kim, Woohyun; Piskurewicz, Urszula; et al.
    Developmental Cell, 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.10.005 NOV 2021
  • Arabidopsis thaliana Mature Endosperm Dissection and Isolation of Genomic DNA from Mature Seed Tissues.
    Mayumi Iwasaki; Luis Lopez-Molina
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 2021-01-01 | Journal article, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1134-0_22

  • Identification of tannic cell walls at the outer surface of the endosperm upon Arabidopsis seed coat rupture
    Demonsais, Lara; Utz-Pugin, Anne; Loubery, Sylvain; Lopez-Molina, Luis
    Plant Journal,10.1111/tpj.14994  NOV 2020
  • Embryonic Photosynthesis Affects Post-Germination Plant Growth
    Sela, Ayala; Piskurewicz, Urszula; Megies, Christian; Mene-Saffrane, Laurent; Finazzi, Giovanni; et al.
    Plant Physiology  DOI: 10.1104/pp.20.00043  APR 2020
  • Polyamine uptake transporter 2 (put2) and decaying seeds enhance phyA-mediated germination by overcoming PIF1 repression of germination
    Kim, W; Zeljkovic, SC; Piskurewicz, U; Megies, C; Tarkowski, P; Lopez-Molina, L
    PLOS GENETICS, 15 (7):10.1371/journal.pgen.1008292 JUL 2019
  • ICE1 and ZOU determine the depth of primary seed dormancy in Arabidopsis independently of their role in endosperm development
    MacGregor, DR; Zhang, NC; Iwasaki, M; Chen, M; Dave, A; Lopez-Molina, L; Penfield, S
    PLANT JOURNAL, 98 (2):277-290; 10.1111/tpj.14211 APR 2019
  • Non-canonical RNA-directed DNA methylation participates in maternal and environmental control of seed dormancy
    Iwasaki, M; Hyvarinen, L; Piskurewicz, U; Lopez-Molina, L
    ELIFE, 8 10.7554/eLife.37434 MAR 26 2019
  • The plant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa triggers a DELLA-dependent seed germination arrest in Arabidopsis
    Chahtane, H; Fuller, TN; Allard, PM; Marcourt, L; Queiroz, EF; Shanmugabalaji, V; Falquet, J; Wolfender, JL; Lopez-Molina, L
    ELIFE, 7 10.7554/eLife.37082 AUG 28 2018
  • Chloroplast Biogenesis Controlled by DELLA-TOC159 Interaction in Early Plant Development
    Shanmugabalaji, V; Chahtane, H; Accossato, S; Rahire, M; Gouzerh, G; Lopez-Molina, L; Kessler, F
    CURRENT BIOLOGY, 28 (16):2616-+; 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.006 AUG 20 2018
  • 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   DOI: 10.7554/eLife.37082  AUG 28 2018
Luis Lopez-Molina UniGeneva

Prof. Dr. Luis Lopez-Molina
University of Geneva
Department of Plant Sciences
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