Transcriptional and biochemical analyses of gibberellin expression and content in germinated barley grain

J Exp Bot. 2020 Mar 25;71(6):1870-1884. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz546.


Mobilization of reserves in germinated cereal grains is critical for early seedling vigour, global crop productivity, and hence food security. Gibberellins (GAs) are central to this process. We have developed a spatio-temporal model that describes the multifaceted mechanisms of GA regulation in germinated barley grain. The model was generated using RNA sequencing transcript data from tissues dissected from intact, germinated grain, which closely match measurements of GA hormones and their metabolites in those tissues. The data show that successful grain germination is underpinned by high concentrations of GA precursors in ungerminated grain, the use of independent metabolic pathways for the synthesis of several bioactive GAs during germination, and a capacity to abort bioactive GA biosynthesis. The most abundant bioactive form is GA1, which is synthesized in the scutellum as a glycosyl conjugate that diffuses to the aleurone, where it stimulates de novo synthesis of a GA3 conjugate and GA4. Synthesis of bioactive GAs in the aleurone provides a mechanism that ensures the hormonal signal is relayed from the scutellum to the distal tip of the grain. The transcript data set of 33 421 genes used to define GA metabolism is available as a resource to analyse other physiological processes in germinated grain.

Keywords: Hordeum vulgare; Aleurone; RNA-seq; germination; gibberellic acid; scutellum; signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Germination
  • Gibberellins*
  • Hordeum* / genetics
  • Seedlings
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • Gibberellins