The young plant’s pantry does more than just feed it

seedling Luis Lopez Molina Uni Geneva

A University of Geneva team has observed that the role of plant tissue – called endosperm – is not only to feed the seed but is crucial for the development and protection of young plants.

The endosperm is tissue surrounding the plant embryo in the seed. It has long been perceived as a nourishing tissue that is abandoned once the transition to the seedling is complete. A team, led by scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has shown that the endosperm also plays a key role in the proper development of the seedling after germination. It acts notably on the formation of the cuticle, a protective layer essential for the survival of plants. Biologists found that these new functions attributed to the endosperm are independent of its capacity to provide nutrients and are mediated by the production of specific molecules.

This research project was a collaborative effort of several scientists and their teams, among them many members of the Swiss Plant Science Web.
Luis Lopez-Molina, professor at the Department of Botany and Plant Biology of the UNIGE (lead);
Dr. Christiane Nawrath PI at the Department of Plant Molecular Biology of the University of Lausanne;
Dr. Fiamma P Longoni, PI at the Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel;
Dr. Laurent Mêne-Saffrané PI at the University of Fribourg, Department of Biology.

Julien De Giorgi, Christelle Fuchs, Mayumi Iwasaki, Woohyun Kim, Urszula Piskurewicz, Kay Gully, Anne Utz-Pugin, Laurent Mène-Saffrané, Patrice Waridel, Christiane Nawrath, Fiamma Paolo Longoni, Satoshi Fujita, Sylvain Loubéry, Luis Lopez-Molina
The Arabidopsis mature endosperm promotes seedling cuticle formation via release of sulfated peptides
Developmental Cell, 2021,

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