Discovery of a new mechanism for “abscisic acid,” a plant hormone – Towards achieving efficiency of crops that prevent pre-harvest sprouting

June 06(Wed), 2018

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in Japan, together with collaborating research groups, identified a functional mechanism of “abscisic acid,” which is a plant hormone that plays an important role in seed dormancy and drought stress response. An improvement in the efficiency of agricultural crops due to prevent the pre-harvest sprouting can be anticipated from this research result.

When a plant is exposed to stress, such as drought or low temperature, it stores abscisic acid (ABA), which is one of the plant’s hormones. It is known that ABA controls stomatal closures and various gene expressions that allow a plant to live in such environments. Plant seeds will not sprout in an environment where they will not survive, and so the plant maintains a state of “non-sprouting” that is called seed dormancy. ABA has an important role in this state of seed dormancy.

In this research, NARO, together with collaborating research groups, identified a new functional mechanism of ABA during the sprouting period using Arabidopsis, a model plant. In the past, it was believed that in order for ABA to function, a system of going through an ABA receptor was needed. In this research, it was found that a mechanism existed of going through both ABA hypersensitive germination 1 (AHG1), which is a type 2C protein phosphatase (PP2C), and DOG1 protein, which also has important functions in the seed dormancy state.

AHG1 genes and DOG1 genes exist in important crops, such as rice, wheat, and barley. The issue pre-harvest sprouting regarding wheat and barley growth is deeply related to the issue of seed dormancy. Controlling the functions of AHG1 and DOG1 in addition to the protein that goes through an ABA receptor is expected to lead to more efficient development of agricultural crops.
This research result was published in the online version of the international science magazine “Nature Communications” (June 6, 2018 issue).

Article Information

Authors Noriyuki Nishimura, Wataru Tsuchiya, James J. Moresco, Yuki Hayashi, Kouji Satoh et al.
Journal: Nature Communications
Title: Control of seed dormancy and germination by DOG1-AHG1 PP2C phosphatase complex via binding to heme
Year of Publication: Jun, 2018

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