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Gene discovery may yield lettuce that will sprout in hot weather
Date:3/29/2013

, where fall temperatures frequently reach 110 degrees.

In order to jump-start seed germination for a winter crop in these hot climates, lettuce growers have turned to cooling the soil with sprinkler irrigation or priming the seeds to germinate by pre-soaking them at cool temperatures and re-drying them before planting methods that are expensive and not always successful.

In the new study, researchers turned to lettuce genetics to better understand the temperature-related mechanisms governing seed germination. They identified a region of chromosome six in a wild ancestor of commercial lettuce varieties that enables seeds to germinate in warm temperatures. When that chromosome region was crossed into cultivated lettuce varieties, those varieties gained the ability to germinate in warm temperatures.

Further genetic mapping studies zeroed in on a specific gene that governs production of a plant hormone called abscisic acid known to inhibit seed germination. The newly identified gene "turns on" in most lettuce seeds when the seed is exposed to moisture at warm temperatures, increasing production of abscisic acid. In the wild ancestor that the researchers were studying, however, this gene does not turn on at high temperatures. As a result, abscisic acid is not produced and the seeds can still germinate.

The researchers then demonstrated that they could either "silence" or mutate the germination-inhibiting gene in cultivated lettuce varieties, thus enabling those varieties to germinate and grow even in high temperatures.


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Contact: Patricia Bailey
pjbailey@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9843
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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