Two Faces of One Seed: Hormonal Regulation of Dormancy and Germination

Mol Plant. 2016 Jan 4;9(1):34-45. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2015.08.010. Epub 2015 Sep 5.


Seed plants have evolved to maintain the dormancy of freshly matured seeds until the appropriate time for germination. Seed dormancy and germination are distinct physiological processes, and the transition from dormancy to germination is not only a critical developmental step in the life cycle of plants but is also important for agricultural production. These processes are precisely regulated by diverse endogenous hormones and environmental cues. Although ABA (abscisic acid) and GAs (gibberellins) are known to be the primary phytohormones that antagonistically regulate seed dormancy, recent findings demonstrate that another phytohormone, auxin, is also critical for inducing and maintaining seed dormancy, and therefore might act as a key protector of seed dormancy. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the sophisticated molecular networks involving the critical roles of phytohormones in regulating seed dormancy and germination, in which AP2-domain-containing transcription factors play key roles. We also discuss the interactions (crosstalk) of diverse hormonal signals in seed dormancy and germination, focusing on the ABA/GA balance that constitutes the central node.

Keywords: ABA; GA; auxin; crosstalk; germination; seed dormancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Germination / physiology*
  • Plant Dormancy*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / physiology*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Plant Growth Regulators