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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Regulation of DNA (de)Methylation Positively Impacts Seed Germination during Seed Development under Heat Stress

Malabarba, Jaiana; Windels, David; Xu, Wenjia; Verdier, Jerome


Seed development needs the coordination of multiple molecular mechanisms to promote correct tissue development, seed filling, and the acquisition of germination capacity, desiccation tolerance, longevity, and dormancy. Heat stress can negatively impact these processes and upon the increase of global mean temperatures, global food security is threatened. Here, we explored the impact of heat stress on seed physiology, morphology, gene expression, and methylation on three stages of seed development. Notably, Arabidopsis Col-0 plants under heat stress presented a decrease in germination capacity as well as a decrease in longevity. We observed that upon mild stress, gene expression and DNA methylation were moderately affected. Nevertheless, upon severe heat stress during seed development, gene expression was intensively modified, promoting heat stress response mechanisms including the activation of the ABA pathway. By analyzing candidate epigenetic markers using the mutants' physiological assays, we observed that the lack of DNA demethylation by the ROS1 gene impaired seed germination by affecting germination-related gene expression. On the other hand, we also observed that upon severe stress, a large proportion of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were located in the promoters and gene sequences of germination-related genes. To conclude, our results indicate that DNA (de)methylation could be a key regulatory process to ensure proper seed germination of seeds produced under heat stress.


heat stress; seed; DNA methylation; seed development; seed germination

Published in

2021, volume: 12, number: 3, article number: 457
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Malabarba, Jaiana
Universite d'Angers
Windels, David
Universite d'Angers
Xu, Wenjia
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Xu, Wenjia
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology
Verdier, Jerome
Universite d'Angers
Verdier, Jerome
Chinese Academy of Sciences

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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