Expression of 9-cis-EPOXYCAROTENOID DIOXYGENASE4 is essential for thermoinhibition of lettuce seed germination but not for seed development or stress tolerance

Plant Cell. 2013 Mar;25(3):884-900. doi: 10.1105/tpc.112.108902. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


Thermoinhibition, or failure of seeds to germinate at warm temperatures, is common in lettuce (Lactuca sativa) cultivars. Using a recombinant inbred line population developed from a lettuce cultivar (Salinas) and thermotolerant Lactuca serriola accession UC96US23 (UC), we previously mapped a quantitative trait locus associated with thermoinhibition of germination to a genomic region containing a gene encoding a key regulated enzyme in abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis, 9-cis-EPOXYCAROTENOID DIOXYGENASE4 (NCED4). NCED4 from either Salinas or UC complements seeds of the Arabidopsis thaliana nced6-1 nced9-1 double mutant by restoring germination thermosensitivity, indicating that both NCED4 genes encode functional proteins. Transgenic expression of Salinas NCED4 in UC seeds resulted in thermoinhibition, whereas silencing of NCED4 in Salinas seeds led to loss of thermoinhibition. Mutations in NCED4 also alleviated thermoinhibition. NCED4 expression was elevated during late seed development but was not required for seed maturation. Heat but not water stress elevated NCED4 expression in leaves, while NCED2 and NCED3 exhibited the opposite responses. Silencing of NCED4 altered the expression of genes involved in ABA, gibberellin, and ethylene biosynthesis and signaling pathways. Together, these data demonstrate that NCED4 expression is required for thermoinhibition of lettuce seeds and that it may play additional roles in plant responses to elevated temperature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / biosynthesis
  • Abscisic Acid / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Dioxygenases / genetics
  • Dioxygenases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gene Silencing
  • Germination*
  • Gibberellins / genetics
  • Gibberellins / metabolism
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Hot Temperature
  • Lettuce / enzymology*
  • Lettuce / genetics
  • Lettuce / growth & development
  • Mutation
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / enzymology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / growth & development
  • Seeds / enzymology
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Transgenes
  • Water / metabolism


  • Gibberellins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Water
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Dioxygenases
  • 9-cis-epoxy-carotenoid dioxygenase