Pods play a key role in encapsulating the developing seeds and protecting them from pests and pathogens. In addition to this protective function, it has been shown that the photosynthetically active pod wall contributes assimilates and nutrients to fuel seed growth. Recent work has revealed that signals originating from the pod may also act to coordinate grain filling and regulate the reallocation of reserves from damaged seeds to those that have retained viability. In this review we consider the evidence that pods can regulate seed growth and maturation, particularly in members of the Brassicaceae family, and explore how the timing and duration of pod development might be manipulated to enhance either the quantity of crop yield or its nutritional properties.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.