Thermoinhibition uncovers a role for strigolactones in Arabidopsis seed germination

Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 Jan;53(1):107-17. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcr176. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Strigolactones are host factors that stimulate seed germination of parasitic plant species such as Striga and Orobanche. This hormone is also important in shoot branching architecture and photomorphogenic development. Strigolactone biosynthetic and signaling mutants in model systems, unlike parasitic plants, only show seed germination phenotypes under limited growth condition. To understand the roles of strigolactones in seed germination, it is necessary to develop a tractable experimental system using model plants such as Arabidopsis. Here, we report that thermoinhibition, which involves exposing seeds to high temperatures, uncovers a clear role for strigolactones in promoting Arabidopsis seed germination. Both strigolactone biosynthetic and signaling mutants showed increased sensitivity to seed thermoinhibition. The synthetic strigolactone GR24 rescued germination of thermoinbibited biosynthetic mutant seeds but not a signaling mutant. Hormone analysis revealed that strigolactones alleviate thermoinhibition by modulating levels of the two plant hormones, GA and ABA. We also showed that GR24 was able to counteract secondary dormancy in Arabidopsis ecotype Columbia (Col) and Cape Verde island (Cvi). Systematic hormone analysis of germinating Striga helmonthica seeds suggested a common mechanism between the parasitic and non-parasitic seeds with respect to how hormones regulate germination. Thus, our simple assay system using Arabidopsis thermoinhibition allows comparisons to determine similarities and differences between parasitic plants and model experimental systems for the use of strigolactones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / embryology*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Germination* / drug effects
  • Gibberellins / metabolism
  • Lactones / chemistry
  • Lactones / metabolism*
  • Lactones / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Plant Dormancy / drug effects
  • Seeds / drug effects
  • Seeds / embryology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Striga / drug effects
  • Striga / metabolism
  • Temperature*


  • GR24 compound
  • Gibberellins
  • Lactones
  • Abscisic Acid