Seed germination and vigor

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2012;63:507-33. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105550. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


Germination vigor is driven by the ability of the plant embryo, embedded within the seed, to resume its metabolic activity in a coordinated and sequential manner. Studies using "-omics" approaches support the finding that a main contributor of seed germination success is the quality of the messenger RNAs stored during embryo maturation on the mother plant. In addition, proteostasis and DNA integrity play a major role in the germination phenotype. Because of its pivotal role in cell metabolism and its close relationships with hormone signaling pathways regulating seed germination, the sulfur amino acid metabolism pathway represents a key biochemical determinant of the commitment of the seed to initiate its development toward germination. This review highlights that germination vigor depends on multiple biochemical and molecular variables. Their characterization is expected to deliver new markers of seed quality that can be used in breeding programs and/or in biotechnological approaches to improve crop yields.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Desiccation
  • Germination / physiology*
  • Gibberellins / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxylipins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Dormancy / physiology
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Seeds / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Gibberellins
  • Oxylipins
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger