The ability of a seed to provide high and synchronous germination and seedling establishment under different environmental conditions is an important agronomical trait, ensuring homogenous crop establishment needed for optimal yield. One of the key factors that contributes to this trait is the capacity of seeds to remain alive for extended periods of time in the dry state (i.e. longevity). Seeds with elevated longevity will deteriorate only slowly during conservation, and will retain high germination vigor. In the industry, unexpected losses in seed viability negatively impact seed sales and production schedules, costing millions of Euros each year. Longevity is also critically important to conservation and evolution of natural plant populations. Conservation efforts to preserve genetic diversity of these populations ex situ rely on storing seeds for long periods whilst optimizing viability monitoring and regeneration frequencies to limit consumption of stored seeds and genetic shifts. An integrative model encompassing the different regulatory and mechanistic pathways governing longevity is urgently needed. This complex trait is acquired during final seed maturation and is influenced by the environment, both during maturation and upon subsequent post-harvest storage.
Our main research efforts focus on understanding seed quality of legume seeds, such as Medicago trunctula, pea and soybean. Production of grain legumes, which are an important source of proteins, is strategically and economically important for food security to sustain the increase in meat consumption world-wide. Given their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, they are pivotal to the development of European sustainable agriculture. To decrease the European dependence on protein imports, instability of legume seed yield due to environmental fluctuations needs to be reduced. Producing highly vigorous seeds is an key lever to increase crop production efficiency.
Click here to download the gene regulatory network 'MatNet' as a .cys file for cytoscape: MatNet.cys