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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Mechanisms of seed stress tolerance acquired during maturation

To discover the mechanisms involved in desiccation tolerance, we focus on comparative analyses between tolerant and sensitive tissues to characterize differences on a molecular level. To identify the actors playing a role in the acquisition of longevity and seedling stress tolerance during maturation, a quantitative approach is used, combining network inference, forward genetics and functional genomics.

We started the molecular characterization of the late maturation phase in the model legume Medicago truncatula. During this three week long phase, between the end of seed filling and seed abscission, longevity increases 30 times. Thus, this model allows us to describe finely mechanisms and regulatory pathways associated with physiological quality. This description is based on the topological analysis of gene regulatory networks build from transcriptomic data to identify regulatory genes that are further characterized for their role in maturation by functional genomics (collaboration J Verdier, Shanghai Plant Stress Centre, CHina). Integration of the phenotyping into the gene regulatory co-expression network led to the identification of modules related to desiccation tolerance and longevity (Verdier et al. , 2013). The topological network analysis has also identified transcription factors that are connected to these two processes.

reseau regulation Verdier

A detailed characterization of the kinetics of accumulation late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins in relation to the acquisition of desiccation tolerance and longevity during seed maturation (Chatelain et. al 2012) showed that a panel of LEA proteins are correlated with longevity. Moreover, a delay of 3 weeks between the accumulation of transcripts and proteins suggests a post-transcriptional regulation of these protective protiens (Verdier et al., 2013).

To study the mechanisms involved in desiccation tolerance, we use a comparative analysis between desiccation tolerant and sensitive tissues. We are performing a comparative analysis of seed development of two legume species: Medicago truncatula (orthodox) and Castanospermum australe (recalcitrant). Comparison of the LEAome demonstrated that certain LEA proteins absent or weakly accumulated in mature seeds of C. australe. The LEA proteome LEA resembles that of Medicago Mtabi3 mutants (Delahaie et al., 2013).

Castano and medicago seeds

Seeds of Medicago truncatula and Castanospermum australe


We have sequenced the Castanospermum transcriptome by RNAseq and used these data to produce dedicated arrays to follow the evolution of the transcriptome during the development of the recalcitrant seeds. This study is coupled to ecophysiological and ultrastructural analyses (collaboration Prof. J. Farrant (Univ Cape Town, South Africa) and Henk Hilhorst (Wageningen University). Comparison with development of the orthodox M. truncatula seeds (theme 1) will lead to the identification of the regulatory pathways and their targets that are implicated in the acquisition of desiccation tolerance.

A second physiological model used for a comparative analysis is based on the capacity to re-induce desiccation tolerance in germinated, desiccation-sensitive axes (Buitink et al., 2003). The kinetic analysis of the transcriptome during the re-induction shows a coordinated repression of metabolic genes and an activation of a subset of maturation genes (Buitink et al., 2006), whereas a proteomic analysis identified LEA proteins that are specifically induced in relation to desiccation tolerance. The function of these LEA proteins is being characterized on the molecular level (Boudet et al. 2006 ; Boucher et al., 2010).

See also

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