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Plant hormone interactions during seed dormancy release and germination

  • Birgit Kucera (a1), Marc Alan Cohn (a2) and Gerhard Leubner-Metzger (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 22 February 2007

This review focuses mainly on eudicot seeds, and on the interactions between abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellins (GA), ethylene, brassinosteroids (BR), auxin and cytokinins in regulating the interconnected molecular processes that control dormancy release and germination. Signal transduction pathways, mediated by environmental and hormonal signals, regulate gene expression in seeds. Seed dormancy release and germination of species with coat dormancy is determined by the balance of forces between the growth potential of the embryo and the constraint exerted by the covering layers, e.g. testa and endosperm. Recent progress in the field of seed biology has been greatly aided by molecular approaches utilizing mutant and transgenic seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana and the Solanaceae model systems, tomato and tobacco, which are altered in hormone biology. ABA is a positive regulator of dormancy induction and most likely also maintenance, while it is a negative regulator of germination. GA releases dormancy, promotes germination and counteracts ABA effects. Ethylene and BR promote seed germination and also counteract ABA effects. We present an integrated view of the molecular genetics, physiology and biochemistry used to unravel how hormones control seed dormancy release and germination.

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