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October 27, 2021 Wednesday 11:57:54 AM IST

Scientists Identify New Role for Endosperm in Protection of Young Plants

Science Innovations

A team from University of Geneva (UNIGE) has observed that the role of plant tissue which is called the endosperm which is not only to feed the seed but also it is important for the development and protection of young plants. The endosperm acts notably on the formation of the cuticle, a protective layer essential for the survival of plants. Biologists found that these new functions attributed to the endosperm are independent of its capacity to provide nutrients and are mediated by the production of specific molecules. This study was done by Luis Lopez-Molina, professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Biology at the Faculty of Science of the UNIGE. He is interested in the control of germination and his laboratory had shown that the endosperm plays a role in the development, rather than the nutrition of the plant, by controlling germination. Indeed, as long as the conditions are not favorable to the seedling, germination is blocked, and the seed remains dormant under the effect of a plant hormone produced by the endosperm.

Seedling development encompasses many processes, and the scientists at UNIGE focused on one of them which is the development of the seedling cuticle. This waterproof waxy layer on the stem and leaves, protects the plant from stresses such as dehydration by preventing water evaporation, or pathogen attack. The authors of the study showed that the cuticle forms rapidly during the seed/seedling transition, but only if the endosperm is present. Through biochemical, microscopy and genetic analyses, the team of biologist have identified two molecules produced by the endosperm involved in this process.