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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #272210

Title: Seed traits and genes important for translational biology – highlights from recent discoveries

item ANDUJAR, CRISTINA - Oregon State University
item Martin, Ruth
item NONOGAKI, HIRO - Oregon State University

Submitted to: Plant and Cell Physiology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2011
Publication Date: 8/17/2011
Citation: Andujar, C.M., Martin, R.C., Nonogaki, H. 2011. Seed traits and genes important for translational biology – highlights from recent discoveries. Plant And Cell Physiology. DOI:10.1093/pcp/pcr112.

Interpretive Summary: The rapidly increasing population, climate change, arable land and water availability have profound implications for the ability of agriculture to meet the increasing demands for food, fuels, and fiber. In order to produce higher quality seeds in a more efficient manner for food production and other purposes, a better understanding the biology of seeds is becoming more critical. The focus of this review is on seed traits, such as seed size, shattering and yields, and on seed development and the characteristics of mature seeds. Key genes that have been beneficial in crop domestication (larger seeds, higher yield, dormancy, germination) are discussed as well as some genes that resulted in negative traits, such as vivipary or reduced seed yield. The identification and characterization of the genes responsible for these traits will help to address critical issues in modern agriculture, such as the prevention of vivipary and seed shattering or the enhancement of yields. Recent discoveries in seed biology research are highlighted in this review, with an emphasis on their potential for translational biology.

Technical Abstract: Seeds provide foods, feeds, and fuels. They are also an important delivery system of genetic information, which is essential for the survival of wild species in ecosystems and the production of agricultural species. In this review, seed traits important for agriculture are discussed with an emphasis on genes associated with seed domestication. Over a long period of time during crop domestication, seed traits have been modified through intentional or unintentional selections. While most selections have led to seed traits favorable in agricultural aspects such as larger seeds with more nutritional values compared to wild types, other manipulations in modern breeding have sometimes caused secondary, negative traits such as vivipary, precocious germination on the maternal plant or reduced seed vigor. Recent discoveries in seed biology have identified many genes associated with seed domestication including transcription factors, some of which are targeted by microRNA (miRNA). Seed shattering in both monocots and dicots are controlled by similar key transcription factors. Other regulatory genes targeted by miRNA may be involved in determining the size of mature seeds or the susceptibility of developing seeds to vivipary.