Warm and cold parental reproductive environments affect seed properties, fitness, and cold responsiveness in Arabidopsis thaliana progenies

  • Blödner C
  • Goebel C
  • Feussner I
 et al. 
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Conditions in the parental environment during reproduction can affect the performance of the progenies. The goals of this study were to investigate whether warm or cold temperatures in the parental environment during flowering and seed development affect Arabidopsis thaliana seed properties, growth performance, reproduction and stress tolerance of the progenies, and to find candidate genes for progeny-related differences in stress responsiveness. Parental plants were raised at 20 degrees C and maintained from bolting to seed maturity at warm (25 degrees C) or cold (15 degrees C) temperatures. Analysis of seed properties revealed significant increases in nitrogen in seeds from warm temperature and significant increases in lipids and in the ratio of alpha-linolenic to oleic acid in seeds from the cold parental environment. Progenies of the warm parental environment showed faster germination rates, faster root elongation growth, higher leaf biomass and increased seed production at various temperatures compared with those from the cold parental environment. This indicates that under stable environmental conditions, progenies from warm parental environments had a clear adaptive advantage over those from cold parental environments. This parental effect was presumably transmitted by the higher nitrogen content of the seeds developed in warm conditions. When offspring from parents grown at different temperatures were exposed to chilling or freezing stress, photosynthetic yield recovered faster in progenies originating from cold parental environments. Cold acclimation involved up-regulation of transcripts of flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H) and pseudo response regulator 9 (PRR9) and down-regulation of growth-associated transcription factors (TFs) NAP and AP2domain containing RAP2.3. NAP, a regulator of senescence, and PRR9, a temperature-sensitive modulator of the circadian clock, were probably involved in mediating parent-of-origin effects, because they showed progeny-related expression differences under chilling. Because low temperatures also delay senescence, cold responsiveness of NAP suggests that this factor is linked with the regulatory network that is important for environmental acclimation of plants.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chilling
  • Ecophysiology
  • Epigenetic effect
  • Freezing
  • Transcription factor

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  • C. Blödner

  • C. Goebel

  • I. Feussner

  • C. Gatz

  • A. Polle

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