Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 689–703 | Cite as

The pivotal role of abscisic acid signaling during transition from seed maturation to germination

  • An Yan
  • Zhong Chen


Seed maturation and germination are two continuous developmental processes that link two distinct generations in spermatophytes; the precise genetic control of these two processes is, therefore, crucially important for the survival of the next generation. Pieces of experimental evidence accumulated so far indicate that a concerted action of endogenous signals and environmental cues is required to govern these processes. Plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) has been suggested to play a predominant role in directing seed maturation and maintaining seed dormancy under unfavorable environmental conditions until antagonized by gibberellins (GA) and certain environmental cues to allow the commencement of seed germination when environmental conditions are favorable; therefore, the balance of ABA and GA is a major determinant of the timing of seed germination. Due to the advent of new technologies and system biology approaches, molecular studies are beginning to draw a picture of the sophisticated genetic network that drives seed maturation during the past decade, though the picture is still incomplete and many details are missing. In this review, we summarize recent advances in ABA signaling pathway in the regulation of seed maturation as well as the transition from seed maturation to germination, and highlight the importance of system biology approaches in the study of seed maturation.


Abscisic acid Seed maturation Seed dormancy Seed germination System biology 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Sciences and Science Education, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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