March 12, 2009

Seed germination control process revealed

U.S. researchers say they have identified a process involved in regulating seed germination, preventing crops from germinating in adverse conditions.

Purdue University scientists led by Professor Mike Hasegawa and former postdoctoral student Kenji Miura discovered the step involved in keeping seeds from germinating in freezing conditions or during a drought.

The work is part of ongoing research that has uncovered how similar processes affect a plant's freeze tolerance and absorption of phosphate.

We've found the process, called sumoylation, is involved in the regulation of some major agricultural traits, Hasegawa said. It is fundamental, basic research like this that allows us to understand how plants respond to hormones and environmental conditions.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is reported in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.