An internal thermometer tells the seeds when to germinate

Microscopic section of an Arabidopsis thaliana seed. Image by Sylvain Loubéry Uni Geneva

A research group at Geneva University has discovered the mechanisms by which seeds decide to remain in «hibernation» or to trigger germination depending on the outside temperature.

Germination is a crucial stage in the life of a plant as it will leave the stage of a seed resistant to various environmental constraints (climatic conditions, absence of nutritive elements, etc.). As a seedling the plant is much more vulnerable. The survival of the young plant depends on the timing of this transition. Thus, it is crucial that this step is finely controlled.

A team of scientists, led by professor Luis Lopez-Molina in the Departement of Plant Science at the University of Geneva, has discovered the internal thermometer of seeds that can delay or even block germination, if temperatures are too high for the future seedling. This work could help optimize plant growth in a context of global warming. The results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Urszula Piskurewicz, Maria Sentandreu, Mayumi Iwasaki, Gaëtan Glauser & Luis Lopez-Molina
The Arabidopsis endosperm is a temperature-sensing tissue that implements seed thermoinhibition through phyB
Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36903-4