, Volume 219, Issue 3, pp 479-488
Date: 02 Apr 2004

Changes in endogenous abscisic acid levels during dormancy release and maintenance of mature seeds: studies with the Cape Verde Islands ecotype, the dormant model of Arabidopsis thaliana

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Abstract

Mature seeds of the Cape Verde Islands (Cvi) ecotype of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. show a very marked dormancy. Dormant (D) seeds completely fail to germinate in conditions that are favourable for germination whereas non-dormant (ND) seeds germinate easily. Cvi seed dormancy is alleviated by after-ripening, stratification, and also by nitrate or fluridone treatment. Addition of gibberellins to D seeds does not suppress dormancy efficiently, suggesting that gibberellins are not directly involved in the breaking of dormancy. Dormancy expression of Cvi seeds is strongly dependent on temperature: D seeds do not germinate at warm temperatures (20–27°C) but do so easily at a low temperature (13°C) or when a fluridone treatment is given to D seeds sown at high temperature. To investigate the role of abscisic acid (ABA) in dormancy release and maintenance, we measured the ABA content in both ND and D seeds imbibed using various dormancy-breaking conditions. It was found that dry D seeds contained higher amounts of ABA than dry ND after-ripened seeds. During early imbibition in standard conditions, there was a decrease in ABA content in both seeds, the rate of which was slower in D seeds. Three days after sowing, the ABA content in D seeds increased specifically and then remained at a high level. When imbibed with fluridone, nitrate or stratified, the ABA content of D seeds decreased and reached a level very near to that of ND seeds. In contrast, gibberellic acid (GA3) treatment caused a transient increase in ABA content. When D seeds were sown at low optimal temperature their ABA content also decreased to the level observed in ND seeds. The present study indicates that Cvi D and ND seeds can be easily distinguished by their ability to synthesize ABA following imbibition. Treatments used here to break dormancy reduced the ABA level in imbibed D seeds to the level observed in ND seeds, with the exception of GA3 treatment, which was active in promoting germination only when ABA synthesis was inhibited.