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Free Content Controlling seed development and seed size in Vicia faba: a role for seed coat-associated invertases and carbohydrate state

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We previously provided evidence that seed coat-associated invertase is involved in controlling the carbohydrate state of developing seeds and, by this way, triggering developmental processes (Weber et al. (1995) Plant Cell, 7, 1835–1846). To verify our postulate, we compared seed development of two genotypes of Vicia faba differing in seed weight. The seed coat of the large-seeded genotype formed a higher number of parenchymatous cell layers and matured later. VfCWINV1 encoding a cell wall-bound invertase is expressed in the unloading zone of the seed coat. mRNA levels peaked later in ‘large’ coats and mRNA was present in more cell layers over a longer time period. Cell wall-bound invertase activity revealed a similar accumulation pattern, obviously generating the high hexose conditions present in the endospermal cavity bathing the premature cotyledons and thus controlling their carbohydrate state. High hexose conditions were correlated with an extended mitotic activity of the ‘large’ cotyledons. In ‘large’ and ‘small’ cotyledons, sucrose levels rose when hexoses decreased apparently terminating cell divisions and initiating differentiation and storage activities. This developmental switch was delayed in ‘large’ embryos. To prove the outlined relationship, sucrose was added in vitro to mitotically active cotyledons. This treatment favoured nuclear expansion and starch accumulation over cell division. In contrast, a hexose-based medium maintained cell divisions. We conclude that development of the embryo is coordinately regulated with that of the maternal seed coat which controls, by metabolic signals, the phase of cell division of the embryo and consequently also seed size.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1996

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