Germination of Arabidopsis thaliana seeds is not completed as a result of elongation of the radicle but of the adjacent transition zone and lower hypocotyl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Technology and Life Sciences
  • University of Guelph


The completion of germination of seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana is marked by the appearance of the radicle through the surrounding endosperm and testa. Using confocal microscopy and green fluorescent protein (GFP)-transformed embryos to highlight the epidermal cell walls it has been possible to conduct time-lapse photography of individual embryos during their germination. This reveals that the elongation of embryo cells to effect completion of germination does not occur within the radicle itself, but rather within a discrete region that is immediately proximal to the radicle. This region, identifiable as the lower hypocotyl and hypocotyl-radicle transition zone, is also definable by accumulation of carbohydrate-containing bodies during germination, and distinct GFP expression of GAL4-GFP in enhancer trap lines. Flow cytometric studies show that there is an increase in the proportion of 4C nuclei in the axis which coincides with a considerable increase in length of the hypocotyl, and the occurrence of endopolyploid (8C and 16C) nuclei accompanies the 2-fold increase in mean cell size in the region of elongation, the lower hypocotyl, and hypocotyl-radicle transition zone. Thus the observed cell elongation during germination is accompanied by an increase in nuclear DNA content, and the resultant elongation of the axis to effect radicle emergence is due to cell expansion, not to cell division. When studying the molecular events involved in the completion of germination, therefore, it may be prudent to focus on this region of elongation.

Bibliographic note

MEDLINE® is the source for the MeSH terms of this document.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3587-3594
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009