The role of seeds in the annual and perennial life cycles

Project code: AL 1447/4-1

Annual species die after flowering and rely on seeds for survival from year to year. Perennial plants persist for many years and can survive both as seeds and as vegetative plants. This suggests that seeds might play a different role in perennial compared to annual species. The time when seeds germinate is important for the adaptation of plants to their environment and will influence the timing of all subsequent developmental phases including flowering time. Seed traits like dormancy and longevity determine the time of germination and are influenced by environmental conditions during seed maturation and storage. Seed traits have mainly been studied in annual plants like Arabidopsis thaliana whereas little is known about their regulation in perennials.

In this project we will characterise seed traits in perennial Brassicaceae species. The role of genes that are known to regulate seed traits in A. thaliana will be studied in other annual and perennial Brassicaceae species. Potential links between flowering behaviour and seed traits will be explored. The objective of this project is to reveal how the annual and perennial life strategies influence seed traits such as dormancy and longevity, which will provide insights in plant adaptation and in our understanding of life history evolution.

Fig. 1

The life cycles of a winter annual Arabidopsis thaliana accession and the perennial Arabis alpina.

Publications related to the project

  • Albani, M.C., Castaings, L., Wötzel, S., Mateos, J.L., Wunder, J., Wang, R., Reymond, M., and Coupland, G. (2012). PEP1 of Arabis alpina is encoded by two overlapping genes that contribute to natural genetic variation in perennial flowering. PLOS Genetics 8: e1003130. Weblink Weblink
  • Nakabayashi, K., Bartsch, M., Xiang, Y., Miatton, E., Pellengahr, S., Yano, R., Seo, M., and Soppe, W.J.J. (2012). The time required for dormancy release in Arabidopsis is determined by DELAY OF GERMINATION 1 protein levels in freshly harvested seeds. Plant Cell 24: 2826-2838. Weblink Weblink
  • Chiang, C.K., Bartsch, M., Barua, D., Nakabayashi, K., Debieu, M., Kronholm, I., Koornneef, M., Soppe, W.J.J., Donohue, K., and De Meaux, J. (2011). DOG1 expression is predicted by the seed-maturation environment and contributes to geographical variation in germination in Arabidopsis thaliana. Molecular Ecology 20: 3336-3349. Weblink Weblink
  • Wang, R., Farrona, S., Vincent, C., Joecker, A., Schoof, H., Turck, F., Alonso-Blanco, C., Coupland, G., and Albani, M.C. (2009). PEP1 regulates perennial flowering in Arabis alpina. Nature 459: 423-427. Weblink Weblink



  • Maria Albani
    Prof. Maria Albani
    Principal Investigator
    University of Cologne / MPI for Plant Breeding Research
    Office: +49 (0)221 / 5062-380
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  • Wim Soppe
    Dr. Wim Soppe
    Principal Investigator
    MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne
    Office: +49 (0)221 / 5062-470
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  • William Hughes
    Dr. William Hughes
    Postdoctoral Researcher in SPP1529
    MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne
    Office: +49 (0)221 / 5062-442
    Lab: +49 (0)221 / 5062-404
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