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"Safeguarding genome integrity in seed germination"

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Thursday 08 November 2018, 14:00 - 15:30


Successful germination is important for agriculture and plant survival in natural ecosystems. Deterioration in seed quality is associated with the accumulation of striking levels of DNA damage and DNA repair is essential in early germination to minimise mutation and growth inhibition. We have discovered that maintenance of seed germination vigour and viability requires several distinct repair pathways specific for particular forms of DNA damage. In particular, mutants deficient in repair of chromosomal breaks are hypersensitive to seed ageing, indicating that repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is rate-limiting for germination. The link between genome integrity and germination involves the DNA damage signalling kinases ATAXIA TELANGIECTASIA MUTATED (ATM) and ATM AND RAD3-RELATED. Seeds lacking ATM germinate in the presence of DNA damage, resulting in extensive chromosomal abnormalities. In wild type plants, ATM initiates the response to genotoxic stress, and recent work has revealed novel targets involved in plant DNA damage signalling. These findings provide insight into the roles of genome maintenance mechanisms and DNA damage response networks in regulating germination, a process critical for plant survival in the natural environment and crop production. Understanding the mechanistic basis of seed vigour and viability will underpin the directed improvement of crop varieties with enhanced germination resilience and longevity, and support preservation of genetic resources in seedbanks.

Location Jozef Schell Seminar Room
Contact Prof Chris West
Centre for Plant Sciences
University of Leeds