Seed maturation: developing an intrusive phase to accomplish a quiescent state
Open Access | Published: 1 August 2005
Jesús Vicente-Carbajosa* and Pilar Carbonero
Laboratorio de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Biotecnología-UPM, ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, Madrid, Spain
Plants, as sessile life forms, have evolved diverse mechanisms to circumvent unfavourable growth conditions, among them interruption of the life cycle is one of the most successful strategies. During seed formation, embryo development can proceed through a maturation phase that allows the entry into a quiescent state and represents an evolutionary advantage, since it facilitates dispersal and resuming of growth under optimal environmental conditions. In the maturation phase different gene expression programmes devoted to the accumulation of storage compounds, acquisition of desiccation tolerance and entry into quiescence occur, which are highly coordinated and under fine regulatory control. This paper is focused on recent findings related to central transcription factors which regulate gene expression during maturation. The structure of established regulatory networks is presented based on extensive gene promoter analyses and the characterisation of mutants affecting seed development and maturation. Different aspects of gene regulation both in the embryo and endosperm are covered and comparisons between monocot and dicot species on the basis of current knowledge of the system are also presented.