Mature seed dormancy is a vital plant trait that prevents germination out of season. In Arabidopsis, the trait can be maternally regulated but the underlying mechanisms sustaining this regulation, its general occurrence and its biological significance among accessions are poorly understood. Upon seed imbibition, the endosperm is essential to repress the germination of dormant seeds. Investigation of genomic imprinting in the mature seed endosperm led us to identify a novel set of imprinted genes that are expressed upon seed imbibition. Remarkably, programs of imprinted gene expression are adapted according to the dormancy status of the seed. We provide direct evidence that imprinted genes play a role in regulating germination processes and that preferential maternal allelic expression can implement maternal inheritance of seed dormancy levels.
Keywords: A. thaliana; endosperm; genomic imprinting; germination; maternal inheritance of dormancy; parent-of-origin effect; plant biology.