Dormancy is an adaptive trait that blocks seed germination until the environmental conditions become favorable for subsequent vegetative plant growth. Seed dormancy is defined as the inability to germinate in favorable conditions. Dormancy is alleviated during after-ripening, a dry storage period, during which dormant (D) seeds unable to germinate become non-dormant (ND), able to germinate in a wide range of environmental conditions. The treatment of dormant seeds with ethylene (D/ET) promotes seed germination, and abscisic acid (ABA) treatment reduces non-dormant (ND/ABA) seed germination in sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). Metabolomic and transcriptomic studies have been performed during imbibition to compare germinating seeds (ND and D/ET) and low-germinating seeds (D and ND/ABA). A PCA analysis of the metabolites content showed that imbibition did not trigger a significant change during the first hours (3 and 15 h). The metabolic changes associated with germination capacity occurred at 24 h and were related to hexoses, as their content was higher in ND and D/ET and was reduced by ABA treatment. At the transcriptional level, a large number of genes were altered oppositely in germinating, compared to the low-germinating seeds. The metabolomic and transcriptomic results were integrated in the interpretation of the processes involved in germination. Our results show that ethylene treatment triggers molecular changes comparable to that of after-ripening treatment, concerning sugar metabolism and ABA signaling inhibition.
Xia, Q., Saux, M., Ponnaiah, M., Gilard, F., Perreau, F., Huguet, S., … El-Maarouf-Bouteau, H. (2018). One way to achieve germination: Common molecular mechanism induced by ethylene and after-ripening in sunflower seeds. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19082464