Phytochrome mediates germination responses to multiple seasonal cues.
We identified a new role of phytochrome in mediating germination responses to seasonal cues and thereby identified for the first time a gene involved in maternal environmental effects on germination. We examined the germination responses of a mutant, hy2-1, which is deficient in the phytochrome chromophore. The background genotype, Landsberg erecta (Ler), lacked dormancy in most treatments, while hy2-1 required cold stratification for germination in a manner that resembled a more dormant ecotype, Columbia (Col). Unlike Col, hy2-1 was not induced into dormancy by warm stratification. Therefore, the down-regulation of phytochrome-mediated germination pathways results in sensitivity to cold, but we found no evidence that reduced phytochrome activity enables the warm-induction of dormancy. Cool temperatures during seed maturation induced dormancy. The hy2-1 mutants did not overcome this dormancy, indicating that phytochrome-mediated pathways are required to break cold-induced dormancy. Ler did not respond to post-stratification temperature, but hy2-1 did respond, suggesting phytochrome pathways are involved in germination responses to temperature. In summary, phytochromes mediate dormancy and germination responses to seasonal cues experienced both during seed maturation and after dispersal. Phytochromes therefore appear to be involved in mediating seasonal germination timing, a trait of great ecological importance and one that is under strong natural selection.
Donohue, K; Heschel, MS; Chiang, GCK; Butler, CM; Barua, D
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